Dear Miriam

I am a 65-year-old bachelor farmer and have decided to retire from farming life. My farm has served me well down through the years and I feel it is now time to let somebody else take over so that I can enjoy my retirement whilst I am still fit and healthy. This is where the problem lies.

I have an older sister who lives nearby and she has been very good to me all of my life. Her daughter too, has always helped out on the farm and is a natural with the animals and other aspects of working the land. I have some nephews living in different parts of the country. They all enjoy excellent careers and are married with their own wives and children. My farm has never interested them.

However, my siblings keep dropping hints about keeping it in the family name. I do understand where they are coming from, but the reality is my niece is the best suited to take over from me. I am not sure what to do and how to navigate the situation.

Can you please guide me on how best to deal with this matter?

Thank you.

Midland Farmer

Dear Reader

Thank you for contacting me. I want to say congratulations on taking the decision to retire and enjoy life whilst you are still fit and healthy.

First of all, I want you to know that your situation is not uncommon, and I commend you on making an informed decision with regard to the future of your farm.

Freedom of choice is our birth right and then we need to take responsibility for the choices we make.

So I would encourage you to play out the different sceanarios.

Were you to give in and leave it to a nephew, do you believe that it would work? Does it make sense to hand the farm over to somebody who has no knowledge of farming and equally, has no interest in acquiring it? How would you feel knowing the person that was best suited is no longer there?

Alternatively, how might you feel if you leave it to your niece and risk the wrath of your other siblings and their families? Perhaps it would help to talk to them and explain your reasoning? They may appreciate it.

When it comes to making important decisions, one must follow their intuition. What is more important to you?

Knowing that the farm you loved and cared for all of your life is in good hands going forward, or knowing that at least one of your siblings is happy now that his/her son has the land?

Freedom of choice is our birth right and then we need to take responsibility for the choices we make.

With regard to your siblings and their families, certainly they may feel put out because their sons will not inherit. However, the reality is this is your farm and your choice regarding who succeeds you. It is a decision that you and you alone must take.

It is not your job to make others happy or to go around pleasing them at a huge emotional cost to yourself. Do what feels right for you.

Everything has a way of working out. The reality is that family names come and go; you have only to read the history of small towns and villages to see how the names over shops have changed down through the years.

The old adage, ‘we can please some of the people some of the time but we can never please all of the people all of the time’, is so true.

Do what feels right for you, and consider that this isn’t just about who deserves the farm. After many years of hard work, you also deserve a happy and peaceful retirement knowing that the future of the farm is safe and secure in the hands of the right person.

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