Farm payment entitlements under Wills

Farm payment entitlements under Wills

A difficulty arose in the past few years in relation to basic payment entitlements (BPEs), which are annual payments to farmers arising from various EU support schemes.

Strictly speaking, BPEs are not attached to land, although a farmer must farm land in order to claim them. BPEs may be left by Will and should be specifically dealt with in a Will. However, as they are not generally attached to lands, problems have arisen when a farmer has left land to a beneficiary, but the Will was silent on who was to receive any BPEs the farmer might have.

In these circumstances, the BPEs formed part of residue, which may not have been what was intended and may cause difficulty and hardship for the person receiving the land.

Thankfully, this lacuna has not been closed and the issue has been resolved.

The European Union (Basic Payment Scheme Inheritance) Regulations 2017 (SI 639 of 2017) (“the Regulations”) now deals with the issue. Paragraph 4 of the Regulations states as follows: “Where a deceased person bequeaths land in a will and (a) at the time of his or her death held an allocation of payment entitlements under Regulation 1307/2013, and (b) made no provision for those payment entitlements in his or her will, such payment entitlements (or share thereof) shall transfer with the eligible land unless there is a legal impediment preventing the transfer.”

The Regulations are in force since 21 November 2017. It is generally advisable to include reference to payment entitlements in a Will in any event.