Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

SPONSORED: Making a will – a critical factor in the future of crofting

Post Thumbnail

What will 2021 bring for the crofting sector? Many aspects of Scotland’s crofting law are considered to be complex and outdated, but we’ve yet to see significant progress in this area.

In 2017, the Scottish Government announced its intention to address some of the more complex issues, but in 2019, those plans were put on hold, with the delay attributed to legislative pressures caused by the UK’s exit from the EU.

In October 2020, the Law Society of Scotland published a report recommending proposed solutions to issues in four areas of crofting law including succession, where it was suggested that simplification and greater clarity would help deal with the transfer of assets and finances after the death of a croft owner. However, there is no certainty that the Scottish Government will make any changes in the near future so, for now, the status quo is intact.

While the speed at which legislation changes is largely out of the control of the sector, there is a way that crofters can still have power over the future of their own crofts; through the protection of a will.

The most recent figures published by the Crofting Commission show that there are around 21,000 crofts in Scotland. Indeed, the Crofting Commission’s annual report for 2019/20 revealed that there are more crofters in Scotland who are in the over 80s category than those in the under 40s group.

Regardless of age though, making a will is important for each and every one of us, particularly during these uncertain times. In crofting, it makes provisions for the croft to be handed down according to the owner’s wishes. If there is no will, it immediately passes by default to legislation, to specify who is entitled to apply for ownership or transfer of the tenancy.

Unfortunately, it’s a situation I’ve witnessed many times; crofts that have been in families for generations, where the absence of a will creates an uncertain future. The complications, disputes and stresses that arise when there is no will cannot be understated.

Lisa Law, legal director in Personal Law, Brodies LLP

The process of making a will is straightforward, though crofting law is complex, so it’s not advisable to draft your own will; leave the complexities to a professional. To instruct the drafting of a will,  you will need  to have the following information to hand when speaking to your lawyer:

Status of the croft

This is of particular importance. Is it tenanted or owner occupied, and is there a grazings share? Crofters will often have both a tenanted and an owner-occupied croft and it is not unusual for the family of a deceased crofter to be left searching for this information. This causes delays and uncertainty when time is of the essence.

Who do you want to inherit?

A common dilemma that I come across is a crofter with a single croft tenancy and more than one child. Although the law now permits a croft tenancy to be passed to more than one beneficiary, the consent of the Crofting Commission is required before it can be divided. The outcome is uncertain and consent may well be refused, especially in cases where the croft is too small to be divided.

The crofthouse

Has it been decrofted or does it form part of the croft? If the crofter’s wish is to divide the croft, and the house hasn’t been decrofted, who gets the divided part of the croft with the house? Many crofters I’ve spoken to would like the house to be left to more than one person, which is difficult to achieve if the house has not already been decrofted.

Is your beneficiary able to become a crofter?

When planning for succession, it is important that the person or persons inheriting can actually meet the duties of a crofter. They must be resident within 20 miles of the croft, and be capable of cultivating and taking responsibility for it.

2020 brought many challenges, but one of the areas that has seen positive progress has been the modernisation of many legal practices. Restrictions on movement have, paradoxically, opened up access to legal advice, so the majority of the will-making process can be discussed and progressed via phone and video consultations.

The past 12 months have taught us to expect the unexpected, but having a will in place does provide certainty about the future inheritance of your croft.