One of the most critical stages in the development of any family business is the transfer of its ownership and control to the next generation. However, the process by which this transfer is achieved in farming has been one of the least-researched facets of farm business management. This paper draws on an on-going research project which seeks to remedy this omission. Comparable data for a total of 3,500 farms in England, France and Canada has been analysed to provide a portrait of the main features of the process in which the older generation retires from the farm while the younger generation takes over its ownership and management. The paper begins by defining the three distinct, but interrelated, processes of inheritance, succession and retirement. Focusing on the process of succession, it briefly summarises some of the main similarities and differences in current practice among farm families in the three countries. Having presented a typology of patterns of farming succession based on a review of the literature, the paper goes on to modify this in the light of findings from the more recent surveys.