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Heirs sell large private citrus company after tax code change

For anyone involved in estate administration & probate, there may be some assumptions about the future. Las Vegas residents in the beginning stages of estate planning may assume that companies and assets will stay in the family and provide for heirs for generations. It's important to understand that situations can change and to ensure heirs have the ability to react to those changes as necessary.

A group of heirs in Florida has faced this truth several times since inheriting one of the state's largest privately held tracts of land, as well as a citrus company called Alico Inc. In 2004, the heirs formed a legal group during the settlement of an estate lawsuit. The suit, which was between the families of the property owner's four daughters and his only son, was over the $300 million estate.

Since that time, the legal group has managed Alico Inc. Last year, the group announced the possibility that it would seek a buyer for the company. The reason provided for the decision was tax code changes.

Alico Inc. owns over 130,000 acres of Florida land. A recent announcement indicates that two agriculture firms based in New York - the Arlon Group and 734 Agriculture - will purchase a majority of the heirs' voting shares in Alico Inc. Reportedly, the companies will appoint a local citrus grower as the new chief executive of Alico Inc. That man stated that the two companies intend to keep the company intact and maintain citrus operations in the state.

Not every company sale results in the new company maintaining operations, which is something for heirs and current owners to consider. Individuals who don't want their companies dismantled or sold by heirs should carefully consider estate planning documents, but should also understand that laws, circumstances and economies change. It's important to strike a balance between the wishes of one person and the future needs of heirs.

Las Vegas Sun, "Heirs of Fla. citrus baron sell shares in company" No author given, Oct. 24, 2013

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