Inheriting land requires knowledge and appreciation

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Four generations are enjoying the Lilly estate, thanks to Lamar Lilly's grandfather. "My grandfather had 10 children and he gave each one a farm when they got married," explained the 83-year old patriarch and owner of the property near Martinsville in Nacogdoches County. Did Lilly understand the land's value while growing up and into adulthood? No way. He spent too much time behind a plow for that. "We didn't have very fond memories of what we had to do in those days," recalled Lilly.

Lilly's city wife urged a return to the Piney Woods after 50 years in Houston. She recognized the farm for its beauty and worth. "Caring is the main thing," stated Lillian Lilly. Her first name fit well with the Lillian family name. So did her work ethic.  "If you really care you can find a way," said Lillian. She encouraged the improvements.

The Lilly's became stewards of the land. Farmland was replaced with valuable and productive timber stands. The love for the property was passed on to Candace Lilly Hughes, the Lilly's daughter. Hughes recalls summer time visits with her grandmother. She vowed to build a house one day on 'the patch'.  It was her grandmothers prize garden patch.  Hughes recalls how she would pull her granddaughter in a wagon to show her the trees that were planted one year before her birth.  That was 13 years ago. "She would say, 'Let's go down and see the pretty trees," reminisced Hughes. "Even to this day we call them the pretty trees."

Now Hughes is pleased pine stands are growing to  provide revenue for property improvements. The family now hosts church gatherings at a manmade lake stocked with various types of fish. "The lake paid for itself," points out Lillian. "It was paid for by the timber that used to grow where the lake is now."

Soaking all this appreciation for the land are future heirs. "The future is only what you make it," said Julie Hargis, Lilly's granddaughter. She's not as knowledgeable as she would like about inheriting the property, but she's wanting to learn. "It is great because it has been in our family and it has a lot of history," said Laurel Hargis, 12, the Lilly's great-granddaughter.

Even for this family there's a concern the 180 acres could be sectioned off. "You can't rule from the grave but you can ask them to adhere to these guidelines to keeping it a parcel," explained Paul Hughes. The family is encouraging to other future heirs that the property be kept whole and be shared by the entire family. "The way we can best provide for that to happen is to educate people about the value of land ownership," explained Hughes, who is also the president of the Angelina Nacogdoches County Forest Landowner Association.   Estate guidelines can be written into wills. Inheritance taxes can be delayed, but more important is teaching heirs the about the responsibility and privilege of holding onto the family farm.

The association is hosting a seminar on Saturday at the Texas Forestry Museum in Lufkin. For the first time children, adult and youngsters, will be included. "We want to teach them what to expect when everything lands in their lap. They need to know how to take care of it and what they'll need to afford it." The seminar is from 9a.m. To 2p.m. All property owners and their heirs are invited.