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Foresters encourage creation of succession plans for family lands

Flickr user Andrew Malone

The death of a loved one isn't something many people want to talk about. But forest conservationist experts say it's a crucial step to ensure family lands can be handed down from one generation to the next. They say planning for the passing down of assets and heirlooms before the day comes can make the process much less stressful.

Larry Czelusta is the District Forester at the Conservation District for Wexford and Missaukee counties. He says not having a succession plan can be a big reason why many forests are divided up and sold as separate parcels.

“The best way to sell the land is to chop it up into small pieces and sell it in five or ten acres a piece. But I would hate to see that happen where it doesn't need to happen. If it requires a little bit of forethought and a little bit of planning and that’s what we’re all about”.

Czelusta says the conservation district is hosting a workshop to teach people what the distinction is between assets and heirlooms, to help them make a succession plan that works for them.

“We like to see that the rural character of Michigan stays rural. Not that we’re against development but if development is the choice then I’d rather see it as an active choice rather than a resignation of we can't pay the taxes we’re going to have to sell the land”.