Monday, April 27, 2009

DIY: Set Up A Conservation Easement!

Setting up a conservation easement isn't a typical DIY project but if you own property that you would like to protect in perpetuity, such as a woodlot, farm or marshland, it may be a worthwhile endeavor.

First - what is a conservation easement?  Well, according to the Fox Valley Land Foundation, an easement is
"a way you can protect the environmental value of your land while continuing to own it. It is a legal agreement between a landowner and a nonprofit conservation group or public agency that limits use of the land to ensure that the owner’s conservation goals for the property are upheld."
In other words, an easement is a contract that allows you to retain ownership of your land while restricting certain types of development for as long as the US government and legal system remains intact.

Why set up an easement?  Well, there are two main reasons.  A conservation easement allows you the owner to permanently protect your property from certain types of unwanted development.  It can also confer some significant income tax and estate tax reductions as well because the easement affects the value of the property.

To summarize, an easement:
  • Allows you to protect your land permanently, yet retain ownership for you and your descendants,
  • Maintains flexibility - you can set up easements that protect your right to farm, cut wood, etc,
  • Can signficantly reduce your taxes.
Interested?  Here are a couple of resources to get you started:

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