Many landowners who wish to preserve their properties choose conservation easements. Conservation easements are voluntary yet legally binding and allow landowners to retain ownership of their property for open space or agricultural purposes. However, the easements forever prevent the land from being subdivided or developed.
Most of the open space protected by Land Legacy is from donations of conservation easements by conservation-minded landowners. Donations of easements are normally tax deductible for their full appraised fair market value.
If you are a landowner interested in preserving your property through conservation easement, below is a checklist of considerations and requirements:
You should consult with your accountant or attorney on tax implications of either a donation or sale of a conservation easement.
Normal due diligence must be performed including a property survey, title check, site visit, and appraisal.
A conservation plan prepared by the USDA may be required.
Land Legacy's Board of Directors must approve all transactions to which we are party.
When a landowner donates a conservation easement, Land Legacy asks for a stewardship gift to pay for our ongoing monitoring costs. Stewardship gifts typically range from $5,000 to $50,000, depending on the specifics of the easement and the estimated costs associated with its monitoring and enforcement. These gifts are used to fund annual easement monitoring costs and financial support in the event that legal action in defense of an easement is required. Stewardship gifts are fully tax-deductible.
In determining how much to contribute for stewardship of an easement, Land Legacy urges easement donors to consider not only their current resources, but also the potential tax savings they may realize from their easement donation. Many easement donors provide stewardship gifts in the form of stocks or in smaller installments over time. When gifts of cash are not possible, other options exist, including gifts by bequest, transfer fees that would be paid when the property is sold, or other financing options. Land Legacy encourages landowners to not let the cost of stewardship dissuade them from placing an easement on their property.
On this page is a sample conservation easement that you may download and print. Please keep in mind that this is only a sample and that each easement must be tailored for a specific property and based on the landowner's interests.