Biltmore Property Management
Biltmore Property Management – William A.V. Cecil, who made the preservation and economic success of Biltmore his life’s work, died on Tuesday at the age of 89.
ASHEVILLE — No one likes to think about the death of a loved one, but at Biltmore Estate, it’s a vital part of the long-term survival of the family business.
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“The main reason most family-owned businesses go out of business is that they don’t take into account the generational tax burden,” said Steve Watson, chief financial officer and vice president of the Biltmore Co., which manages the estate. “So it was something that was very important to us and we put a lot of time, energy and effort into it.”
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The property suffered two major losses this year, primarily due to William A.V. death Cecil Sr. in October, followed three weeks later by his wife, Mary “Mimi” Ryan Cecil. Mr. Cecil, the grandson of estate developer George Vanderbilt, was 89 years old. Mimi Cecil – 85 years old. Together they owned the Biltmore Co.
Mr Cecil was the estate’s visionary, taking over in the late 1950s when the huge historic property, which opened to the public in 1930, was hemorrhaging money. Mimi Cecil was working as a lawyer in New York, where her husband also lived, when they decided to return to their hometown and try to save the 8,000-acre estate and 250-room French château.
In an interview at the Biltmore Company’s headquarters on Pack Square downtown, Bill Cecil said the mansion shouldn’t change during this change of ownership. Also, due to careful and shrewd planning, she will not face a huge inheritance tax bill.
The Biltmore Co. dates back to 1933, but brothers William Cecil Sr. and George Cecil in 1978-1979. split the company, with William securing ownership of the estate and George establishing a separate development company, Biltmore Farms. This company went on to build hotels, commercial buildings and neighborhoods, including Biltmore Park.
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“When they did it, from 1978 my dad outsourced estate tax planning to a team of corporate people,” Cecil Jr. said. “So almost everything we’ve done has had an implication or a consideration to make sure that when the final transfer happens we’ll be healthy and everything will be fine. We’re in the process now, so we’ll see how well. But we all have good reason to believe that things are going pretty well.
In 1995 Cecil Sr. retired and Cecil Jr. took over day-to-day operations. Dini Pickering is the Chair of the Board of Directors.
The estate is a major employer in Western North Carolina, with up to 2,400 employees during the Christmas season and 1.4 million visitors each year. Over the past 20 years, two hotels and Antler Hill Village, a collection of shops, restaurants and farm attractions, have sprung up near Biltmore Winery.
All these operations were very successful and increased the company’s profits. As a private company, Biltmore doesn’t disclose its profit margins, but Cecil is happy to tell you about total revenue.
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“I remember when in 1995 I took over the position, sales reached 32 million. USD,” Cecil said. “At the end of last year, sales reached 207 million.
These sales are vital to the company’s core mission: to maintain the pristine estate that Vanderbilt opened in 1895.
“I can quote it without even reading it — the mission is to preserve the Biltmore Estate as a private, profitable, working estate,” Cecil said. “My dad came up with it, and probably the most important thing is to save the Biltmore estate.
“Because the ownership structure that was in place when dad was alive continues today, there’s not going to be any real change,” Pickering said. “Bill remains CEO of The Biltmore Companies, and I remain Chairman of the Board of Directors. We are also pleased to welcome some of our children into the family business. Together, we will ensure that the strategic direction continues to honor our family’s legacy and preserve this beautiful property.” .
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This ownership plan includes at least five companies that own various real estate entities. For example, the Biltmore Co. owns a home with a market value of $157.2 million. $, according to Buncombe County Commercial Tax Assessor Bob May. The property receives an agricultural allowance for around half of this value as most of the property is farmed, but in 2017 Biltmore Co. still paid $453,795 in property taxes on the home.
Other businesses were established at Antler Hill Village, a winery, mostly agricultural property, and hotel property (see box).
Watson said it’s important to remember that the company is a private company with no special tax breaks and is not a special trust shielded from estate taxes. At the turn of the century, efforts were made to get Congress to consider a special protective designation for properties like the Biltmore, but the proposal never made it out of committee, Cecil said.
Like Cecil, Watson did not provide details about his wealth and tax strategies, other than to say that they take a conservative approach and carefully follow all applicable laws.
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“All I will say is that we paid estate and gift taxes like everybody else – we didn’t have any special break,” Watson said. “We are not a non-profit organization, we are not a foundation, we are not owned by the government, and we do not receive any grants from the government. We pay federal, state, local, property and sales taxes, business – and we’re a pretty big business in Western North Carolina.
Cecil said Biltmore is a conservative company, so the planning involved “real simple, conservative” methods recommended by their team and their attorney, Jack Stevens.
“All of the strategies were completely consistent with existing laws and are a good way to avoid anything extreme,” said Stevens, who at 84 still practices law. “The estate was very conservative. They pay their taxes and expect to pay more. It was all completely within all the rules.”
The idea was to limit the impact through careful planning. Stevens said the planning involved a “combination of things” and that includes life insurance policies as a general strategy to cover estate tax costs.
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“One of the strategies is that the growth of new business ventures is great for generations to come,” Stevens said. “We don’t expect any immediate negative impact from the passing of Bill and Mimi as there has been a lot of planning in recent years.”
Assets worth more than 5.5 million $, can pay a 40 percent estate tax, sometimes called a “death tax” by critics, and in some cases must be paid over several months. When asked if the Biltmore would have to come up with a significant amount of money to cover property taxes, Stevens said, “Absolutely not.
The goal is to make the transition so smooth that the public will notice no difference in how the estate operates.
“That’s what the goal looks like right now, with a few bits and pieces that we didn’t expect, but not much,” Cecil said, referring to his parents’ smaller personal assets and distribution among family members. we did our job well, hopefully the public won’t notice any difference.”
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Larry Hartley, a board-certified elder law attorney with the Asheville firm of Strauss Attorneys, PLLC, often helps clients with estate and tax planning. He didn’t work for the Biltmore estate, but he believes the estate, like any smart business, “would have used a number of different planning techniques” to legally reduce taxes and secure the estate’s future.
“Also imagine that some of these techniques were probably done years ago, maybe even with previous generations, in times when valuations were much lower,” Hartley said.
Businesses often form corporations or limited liability corporations to not only run their business more efficiently, but also to disperse ownership interests and potential taxes.
Watson said Biltmore did this to ensure efficiency within the company and monitor profitability in these separate areas. All companies involved in real estate business are owned by heirs.
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Hartley said people often set up and use trusts and gift strategies to reduce their tax burden. It is also a common business strategy to limit the ability to transfer the business to other countries, which reduces its tax value.
Sometimes those who own a business will give a portion of the business to heirs or others. The principal owner retains majority control of the company, but because he has technically transferred some control of the company to others, this reduces the overall tax value of the company.
Married couples can also take advantage of two exemptions, which under current law would mean an exemption of $11 million from estate taxes. USD, not just 5.5 million. USD. Sharp lawyers can “capture” both exemptions for tax purposes.
In 2010 the estate tax was abolished nationally, and it could have been devious
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