| Rural News |
Many people have asked me about the Scott Guy case. While I’m not prepared to give an opinion either way on this interesting murder trial, the synergies for drama are there.
It does look like, from the evidence presented so far, that there was a lot of jealousy, marital ties, perceived inequality, unequal work effort and ethic, children, money and property, inheritance, just to mention a few scenarios available for us to consider.
It is of course for the jury to decide the guilt or innocence of the accused, but the case does bring focus to the issue of tensions that can arise in family farming businesses.
Given human nature being what it is, and the complexity of family farming, it never ceases to amaze me there are not more murders or acts of violence occurring in family situations.
There can be so many frustrating issues happening such as broken marriages with siblings taking sides and ganging up on mum or dad, fights over custody, money, family trusts and so on, and these all equal recipes for disaster.
Then there are battles over the estate when Dad dies and has not left his affairs carefully documented. The family get involved, call up the lawyers and it is battle Royale. Often the only winners are solicitors where it is not uncommon for the “battle” to cost $100,000+ each. I have seen many of these situations which always end in tragedy and heart ache.
Sometimes, I hear the statement “I could murder the b...”
The best solution here is to ensure everything is documented and signed so the devil can be in the detail.
I have also seen battles where non-farming family, who have never been on the subject property, are suddenly ‘expert’ in all aspects of farming. Even the solicitors acting are out of ‘Latte City,’ with even less understanding of normal farming practices, wade into the argument.
Loans by parents to help sons get established on farms without too much bank debt are called “Interest free and on demand” loans. Ensuring they are registered and signed appropriately can save continuing heartache and anguish amongst family and people involved in the future.
I am continually realising that often the Y Generation want it all – now! They will over run the parents and their advisors and fight for the cash flow now. I thought it was our asset creation for our “time” and they (Generation Y) could have what was left when we go - apparently not.
I know of a case here in New Zealand where the siblings showed up at home, forced the parents to cash some large cheques and the “Ys” pocketed the money and left. The police got involved and passed if off as a civil matter.
With farming, families, inequality, jealousy, money and misunderstanding, you can recognise how someone may crack under the pressure.
We need to be more aware of family dynamics, and take better charge of our affairs if we can.
Don Fraser is the Principal of Fraser Farm Finance and a consultant to the Farming Industry. Contact him on 0800 777 675 or 021 777 675.