Do you know the fundamentals ofconservation easements? If not, then you might want to do your homework beforeexploring this charitable tool.
Better yet, you really ought toread a recent article in Private Wealthmagazine titled â€œLegacies By The Acre.â€
If the concept of an easement isnew to you, think of it as an act of charity by giving away the economicutility of the land for the greater good of preserving it. While you could sell the land to a developer whowill build a mall, you might choose to forever close off that possibility andpreserve it as a pristine forest for wildlife or recreation.
All easements, even urbanâ€œfaÃ§adeâ€ easements, follow this general pattern. However, rural or wildernessconservation easements can get a bit more complicated and even allow forcertain â€œeconomic utilityâ€ to the owners. A prime example described in theoriginal article is the concept of a â€œworking forest conservation easementâ€(WFCE). This approach allows a family to give up the full economic utility ofthe land and continue to embrace a sustainable pattern of use. In other words,you do not build malls, but you do continue to responsibly run a family timbercompany from trees harvested on the land.
Conservation easements can be asvaried as the lands put up for easement. In addition, easements can be built toallow greater or lesser utility, rather than simply all or none. By doing good,the landowner can enjoy tax benefits to further sweeten the deal.
In the end, whether to go theconservation easement route will hinge on many factors, to include yourfamilyâ€™s current land, its potential use, and specific market forces in playnow and down the road. Understanding the true value of a conservation easementwill take some experienced planning.