As we get to grips with 2021 and look to hopefully a happier, healthier and more prosperous year ahead, now is a good time to start getting plans in place and affairs in order, to ensure you, your family and business can be in the best possible position to get on with post-pandemic life.

While admittedly 2021 so far hasn’t been too dissimilar to the bulk of 2020, and we’re now in the third lengthy national lockdown since Covid-19 arrived last March, the development of a vaccine - which has so far been given to millions of people across the country, with more vaccinated every day - means we can hopefully look forward to the not-too-distant future with some confidence.

And while we do so, and look forward to such times when we can meet our loved ones, support our local businesses and help get back to something like ‘normal’ (whatever that was!), this marks an ideal opportunity to get prepared for what lies ahead.

This promises to be another year of challenges for our farmers and rural businesses, with the on-going impact of the pandemic and the yet-to-be-fully-discovered minefield of Brexit. But by considering now what lies ahead and establishing what needs to be done, and what advice and support should be sought, you will be doing all you can to ensure 2021 and beyond can be a better period than the one we have just endured.

While by no means an exhaustive list, the following are some of the matters you should consider for the year ahead. By having these on your radar, taking action if necessary and being prepared, you can be in as strong a position as possible:

l Ongoing effects of Covid-19 - as we don’t know yet when it is going to end, is there anything more you can do to maximise trade during a period of closure? Can you do anything more online, which can be continued post-pandemic? You don’t want to look back on this period as wasted time, so forward plan and prepare as much as possible.

l Brexit - do you know how you and your business will be affected? Be sure to have taken any steps to enable a smooth transition to allow any trade relationships you have with the EU to proceed. Ensure you know how the new import/export processes work for such time as you will need them - it may well be you need to take action in advance of that.

l Agriculture Act 2020 - this promises to be a transformational change and could bring opportunities as well as challenges, but is absolutely something you should be familiar with and how the new introductions affect your operation. Have you invested the time to understand its implications and seek advice and clarification if needed?

l Tourism - while tourism during 2020 was decimated by the pandemic, we can only hope the forthcoming summer will enable businesses to throw open their doors and make up for lost time. Do you have plans in place for reopening? Are you geared up to take advantage of demand? There is huge potential for staycations this year, and with people committed to supporting independent businesses, so ensure you have taken all necessary steps to reap the full rewards

l Protecting your future - the pandemic has been a ghastly reminder that none of us know what the future holds and what uncertainties await, so many people have taken the opportunity over the past few months to make and update succession plans. Do you have a will and is it up to date? Will your business and assets pass to those who you want it to? Now marks a good time to ensure you have such plans in place, to give you and your family as much certainty as possible going forward.

As ever, our specialist team at Sintons will be by your side as we deal with the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and we’ll support you every step of the way as we rebuild our communities and economy. Please get in touch if there is anything we can do to assist.

By Tom Wills, Sintons Law