Terriers come in two types. Farmers are already familiar with the usefulness of the small hairy kind that who can keep rats out of the barn. For the purpose of this blog we will focus on a lesser known variety.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the other version of a terrier is defined as ‘a register of the lands belonging to a landowner, originally including a list of tenants, their holdings, and the rents paid, later consisting of a description of the acreage and boundaries of the property.’
Literally coming from Medieval Latin meaning ‘book of land’, a copy of the terrier is an essential part of an accountants files when dealing with farms and landed estates. Most landowners will know exactly what the family owns, including the finer details of boundaries, tenancies and history. However, it may be less clear who owns which property and what is on the business balance sheet.
It is not unheard of for someone to think they own land, when it may be held in the name of their grandparent’s executors, or perhaps incorrectly assume it is automatically jointly owned with a spouse on marriage. Further problems can arise where land has been exchanged or sold but not fully recorded.
The process of updating or even establishing the terrier can identify any potential issues before they give rise to major difficulties. Fixed asset registers can be corrected, Land Registry entries can be amended, ownership can be clarified, and partnership accounts can be restated.
To coin a phrase -in this instance on terriers- it is clearly easier to make hay while the sun shines and prepare a terrier while all parties are in agreement and still alive to sign any relevant documents.
Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.