Land donation offers many possibilities to landowners. If maintained as a preserve by a conservancy, the land will be forever protected for the public benefit, and owners can feel good about knowing they gave something to the community. This may be a beneficial way to do something with land that is no longer of interest to a landowner due to long-distance ownership, has seen highly increased property taxes, or that you would like to use to preserve the memory of a family member.
An outright donation is just what it says. The owner picks a qualified conservation organization that can be responsible for the land and ensure its protection and then donates the land.
If the landowner wishes to remain on the land during his or her lifetime, or perhaps wants a designated beneficiary to live on the land during their lifetime, the owner can donate a remainder interest in the land. Then the owners or beneficiaries may live out their lives on the land, with the conservancy only receiving control afterwards (or if the specified persons release their life interests in the land.) At the time of donation, the owner may receive some charitable contribution tax benefits, but they reserve their right to enjoy the property for the rest of their lives.
Another donation strategy is donation by will. This allows for the owners to have complete control over the land during their lifetimes with the land going to the conservancy after their death.
What Kinds of Property Can Be Protected?
Many people believe that the only way land can be protected is if it is untouched wilderness. This is not true. The type of protection can vary with different sites, but many different types of land or property, with many different uses, can be protected or preserved. Land preservation that protects forest or farmland is greatly appreciated as cities expand and sprawl across the landscape. The tools used for preservation might vary depending on whether you have a house or some other type of structure on the property, or if you want the land to be used for public recreation or for habitat protection. Some types of preservation may target very specific areas like rivers or streams on your property. Historic sites may be important to preserve to keep a tangible reminder of your community’s past.
Land donation can be either preserved land that the conservancy will keep, or land that will be sold to raise money for caring for preserved land elsewhere, depending on how the landowner designates the contribution.
Get Sound Advice
Talking with your family and any trusted advisors will help you arrange for land protection that will best suit your needs.
If you are choosing to donate land through your will, be sure to discuss this with the conservancy before making these stipulations. You want to be sure that the conservancy will agree to care for your land and will have the ability to do so.
If you have any type of property that you think should be preserved, talk with your legal or financial advisor or a conservancy about it, because it may fit under a category you might have missed.