Guide To Passing On Entitlements

The Single Payment Scheme was introduced to Ireland in 2005.

This scheme allows farmers within the EU who follow certain rules to gain entitlements from the land.


This provides farmers with another income stream from their lands and can be a great help to farmers, particularly those who have small farm holdings. Single farm payments were not attached to land, but to the farmer.

As such, where payment entitlements were not specifically mentioned in a will, they formed part of the residue of the estate, and passed to those entitled to the residue, ie the part of the estate left over after deduction of specific bequests, devises, tax, debts etc.

This usually resulted in a person who was not farming receiving the payments, and, most of the time, this would not have been the intention of the deceased.

Entitlements can be sold, leased, gifted etc. It is common practice for farmers to leave the family farm to one child who has been farming the land with them.

Generally, the farmer leaving the farm will intend for the entitlements to pass along with the farm. Because entitlements do not usually attach to land, there have historically been problems when a farmer leaves his or her farm to a child and omits to deal specifically with the Basic Payment Entitlements in their will.

Since the coming into force of The European Union (Basic Payment Scheme Inheritance) Regulations 2017 which was transposed into domestic law by Statutory Instrument 639 of 2017, the Basic Payment Entitlements to land will pass to the person to whom the land was bequeathed in the scenario where the land is transferred to one person and there is no mention made of the entitlements, providing there is no other legal impediment to the transfer.

It Is More Prudent To Mention Entitlements In Your Will

It is nevertheless more prudent to specifically mention the entitlements in your Will, despite the statutory instrument, in order to prevent future disputes or confusion between family members.

If the entitlements are to pass on to the person who is to receive the farm, this should be expressly stated in the will, in order to avoid any possible disappointment, uncertainty and difficulty for the intended beneficiary.

Certainty and specificity are essential in the drafting of wills. It is important to let your solicitor know to whom you wish for the entitlements to pass.

Following the death of a farm there are two issues that need to be dealt with:

1. Any change in relation to the registration details of the herd number and

2.The transfer of any entitlements which are held by the deceased.


When a regional veterinary office is notified of the death of a farmer, it records the death of the farmer on the Department of Agriculture’s systems and commences the process of herd transfer details, subsequently changing the registration details of the herd owner.

Where appropriate, arrangements for the registration of a herdkeeper, with responsibility for the management and care of livestock in the herd, are made. Outstanding payments and/or the transfer of payment entitlements held by the deceased, are transmitted to the legal personal representative, who will deal with them in accordance with the deceased’s will.

As soon as possible, an executor of an estate should contact the inheritance enquiry unit of the Department of Agriculture.

Karen Walsh, from a farming background, is a solicitor practicing in Walsh & Partners, Solicitors, 17, South Mall, Cork (021-4270200), and author of ‘Farming and the Law’. Walsh & Partners also specialises in personal injury claims, conveyancing, probate and family law.Email: Web:


(Source – Irish Examiner – Farming – Karen Walsh – 22/05/2019)

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