Dealing with the family farm – You poured your heart & soul into building it, you may have to do the same to pass it down

Ontario accounts for nearly 25% of Canada’s farms with nearly 71,000 farmer’s at the helm, most of whom are over the age of 55. Considering that the value of farm property in Canada is nearly half a trillion dollars, we are on the cusp of a huge surge in the amount of wealth which is about to be transferred from one farming generation to another. For a farm property that is considered a qualified farm property, per Canada Revenue, there is a tax-free roll over available to the next generation, much like RRSPs are eligible for a tax-free roll over to a spouse. This roll-over can also apply to shares in a family farm corporation or family farm partnership.

However, like the rest of us, not every farmer will be in a situation to simply pass on their life’s work to the next generation. Perhaps the farmer is in a second marriage and wants to ensure that their farm is able to provide for their spouse before the children have complete control, or perhaps the children want nothing to do with the farm. More complicated still, what happens if only one child wants to take over the farm, but their siblings don’t and the farmer wants to ensure their children are treated equally but the vast majority of the farmer’s estate is wrapped up in the farm property. Proper estate planning measures are available and should be discussed in detail with an estate planning professional to ensure that your farm and your family dynamic doesn’t turn to fertilizer to help legal litigation fees grow.

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Joseph is a lawyer with the Estates Group at Cambridge LLP. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Melbourne in 2015 after completing a semester abroad at the University of British Columbia, and was called to the Bar in 2018. He received a Bachelor of Arts from McMaster University, majoring in Art History and minoring in Commerce.

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