Create a list of the things you don’t want to see happen on your property, now or in the future. An example might be that you wouldn’t want to see fifty houses on your property in the future, but you wouldn’t mind one, or maybe you’d prefer that your land not be subdivided. The land restrictions set forth in your conservation easement agreement are your restrictions. The Trust does not tell you what to do with your land.
2. Drafting the Conservation Easement
Once you have made your list, we will work together to draft a conservation easement agreement that properly and clearly conveys your goals.
3. Title Search and Mortgage Subordination
Your attorney or title company will need to draw up a title report. If there is a mortgage on the property, your lender will need to agree to subordinate your mortgage to the conservation easement. The cost of the title search is your responsibility. *
4. Baseline Documentation
Documentation is required to establish the condition of your property at the time your conservation easement is signed. Specific conservation values, such as soil types, tree types, aerial photographs, and location of wetlands, will be recorded in the baseline document. By signing the baseline, you will agree that the document’s content appropriately represents your property at the time the conservation easement is signed. There is no charge for this service.
If the boundaries listed in your deed will suffice to determine the land protected by your conservation easement than you will not need a new survey. In the event a new survey is needed, you are responsible for the cost.*
6. Presentation of the Easement to the Trust’s Board
The Trust’s Board of Directors reviews and must approve all conservation easements held by the Trust.
7. Final Easement Document
We will review with you and your legal advisor the final conservation easement document, maps, exhibits, and the baseline documentation. If acceptable, we will obtain your, as well as your legal advisor’s, approval to move forward to the conservation easement signing and recording process.
8. Easement Signing and Recording
You and the Director of the Trust will sign the final conservation easement document as well as an affidavit certifying the accuracy of the baseline document. A notary will be present. The Trust will ensure that the conservation easement is recorded immediately. Recording costs (usually less than $50) are the responsibility of the landowner. *
9. Tax Deductions
Landowners wishing to take advantage of the tax benefits of conservation easement donations will need to obtain a qualified conservation appraisal. The Trust can provide a list of qualified appraisers. The value of the conservation easement is equal to the value of the property before the easement is signed minus the value of the property after the easement is signed. You should seek advice from a tax attorney or accountant if you plan to claim the value of the conservation easement as a charitable donation for federal taxes. Fees for these services are the responsibility of the landowner. *
Once your easement is recorded the Trust will annually monitor your property to ensure that the goals of your conservation easement are being achieved. If the property changes hands, the Trust will establish a relationship with subsequent landowners, continue annual inspections, and resolve issues regarding continued protection of the land. IRS regulations and Land Trust Accreditation requires that the Trust maintain financial resources to provide these services in perpetuity. We ask that you consider providing a stewardship gift at closing or through a 3% transfer fee contained in the conservation easement agreement to ensure that the Trust has the necessary resources to steward your easement now and in the future. *
* When fees are associated with the donation of a conservation easement, these costs are usually tax deductible. We suggest you contact your accountant for details. In some instances we are able to secure grant funding to cover stewardship and closing costs associated with your conservation easement donation.