FARM SAFETY: SOLICITOR
Why do farmers farm, given the economic adversities and difficulties? The answer is, love. Farmers farm for the love of farming. Farmers farm because they love working outdoors in the presence of nature and animals. Farmers farm because they love our beautiful countryside. Farmers farm because they love the weather, even when it is making them miserable. Farmers farm because they love to live where they work, and work where they live. Farmers farm because they love to be their own boss. But, love can have two edges, one of laughter and enjoyment, the other of anguish, and the latter can tear the heart asunder.A farm is a manipulative creature. The work is never done. There is no such thing as finished. There are things that must be done now, things that must be done later. There is huge pressure. Do it now; or some living thing will wilt or die. Farm safety is very important.
Farm Safety: Farm Safety
Farming is still the most dangerous occupation in Ireland. In 2013, 16 people died on Irish farms. In 2014, that figure almost doubled to 30. In 2014, 55% of all work-related deaths related to farming fatalities. Farm safety should be something all farmers consider before doing any task on the farm.
Following on from my appearance on RTÉ’s Today Show, discussing farm accidents and farm safety, it is clear that there are basic practical things farmers can do to improve farm safety, such as ensuring children wear high visibility vests, having machinery serviced regularly, fitting a PTO guard to the tractor, teaching children respect for machinery and animals etc, but there are also legal safeguards that can be put in place to ease the trauma and pain of losing someone in a farming accident.
Ask yourself one question now. If you died tomorrow, have you legal provisions in place whereby you have appointed someone to look after your estate and take over the farm?
Have you named a successor? Have you decided how the farm will survive in the event that you die unexpectedly?
If all the bank accounts are in your sole name, how will a family cope if there is no access to funds to run the farm?When someone dies, their bank accounts are frozen.
A bank will not release funds until such time as they have been furnished with a Grant of Probate (if a person leaves a will) or a grant of administration intestate (if a person does not leave a will).
Every farmer in the country should have a valid will made. You should not put it off.
By making a will, you ensure that your wishes are carried out and the farm passes to who you wish it would pass to.
If you die without leaving a will, your estate will be divided according to the rules of intestacy. For example, if you die leaving a spouse and children, two thirds of your estate will pass to your spouse and the remaining one third will be divided between your children in equal shares.
If you are not married and have no children, your estate will be divided between your parents in equal shares. If your parents are dead, it will pass to your brothers and sisters in equal shares.
Another important document to put in place is a document called an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). This is a legal document which only takes effect in the event that the person becomes mentally incapacitated.
The person creating the EPA is known as the donor, and in the event of him or her becoming incapacitated, power to deal with the donor’s money and assets transfer to the attorney. It comes operative only in the event that you become incapable of looking after your affairs, and it continues in force until death.
Bank accounts, farm entitlements, land and other assets in the farmer’s sole name cannot easily be dealt with.
When Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney announced a new service for bereaved farm families within the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, it was hugely welcomed.
It establishes a single point of contact with the department for bereaved families, and will deal with practical issues facing a farm after a loss.
Last year, was a dark year for farm deaths, despite greater focus on farm safety.
If you take one thing from this article, please put making a will on the top of your New Year resolution list. Trust me, you will be glad you did. You have the right to decide what happens your farm, in the event that you die. Do not leave the law decide for you.