With the passing of William A.V. Cecil, Sr. in October and his wife, Mary “Mimi” Ryan Cecil, three weeks later (see last month’s Capital at Play), onlookers were wondering what this might mean for one of Asheville’s largest employers. The answer appears to be: Not much. The Cecils were co-owners of the Biltmore Company, a private, family-owned business valued at $157,200,000. Inheritance taxes can claim up to 40% of properties valued at over $5.5 million. But William reportedly created a dedicated successorship and tax planning team when he and his brother split the Biltmore Company into two businesses, one of which became developer Biltmore Farms. William planned for his children, Bill Cecil, Jr. and Dini Pickering, to become the new owners and operators; both had already been very involved in the company’s leadership. Strategies taken to prevent the estate from dissolving under inheritance taxes included qualifying for agricultural deferments since much of the estate is a working farm, investing in life insurance policies, and splitting the estate into a number of smaller companies already run by heirs. Spokespersons say the estate has done nothing to push the limits of tax law and that the transition, to date, has been seamless from a public perspective. The estate businesses paid $1,169,062 in Buncombe County taxes in 2017, and it is neither a nonprofit, nor a foundation, nor a trust, nor a government entity, nor a recipient of government grants.