Donating land for conservation purposes and wildlife habitat protection is truly one of the most lasting legacies a person can leave. Land donation may also be an optimal strategy for you if:
- You want to ensure that your property will remain undeveloped and provide undisturbed habitat for wildlife in perpetuity;
- You wish to relieve yourself or your heirs of the tax burden for your property;
- You own property you no longer use;
- You wish to reduce estate tax burdens; or
- You would like to be relieved of the responsibility of managing or caring for land.
An outright donation of land to Orenda during your lifetime releases you from the responsibility of managing your land. It can also provide substantial income tax deductions and estate tax benefits, while avoiding any capital gains taxes you would incur from selling the property. Most importantly, your land will be preserved and protected in perpetuity as habitat for wildlife.
Of course, you may also donate land to Orenda via your will.
OTHER LAND PROTECTION OPTIONS
Bargain Sale of Land
If you would like your land to be preserved and protected by Orenda, but need some immediate income from the sale of your property, a bargain sale may be an appropriate option for you. In a bargain sale, you sell the land for less than its fair market value. This not only makes it more affordable for Orenda to purchase, but offers several benefits to you as well. A bargain sale provides cash, generally reduces your capital gains tax, and entitles you to a charitable income tax deduction based on the difference between the land’s fair market value and its sale price. Of course, the land must be compatible with Orenda’s mission, goals, and budgetary limitations.
If you would like your land to be preserved for wildlife habitat, but prefer to retain ownership, a conservation restriction may provide a means of doing so. A conservation restriction (also called a “conservation easement”) is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. The restriction allows you to continue to own and use your land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs. Depending on the size and nature of your property, a conservation restriction may apply to all or just a portion of your land. Keep in mind, however, that some land may not be eligible for a conservation restriction due to size, location, or current use.
When you donate a conservation restriction, you permanently give up some of the rights associated with the land, such as construction or development. Your heirs or other future owners will also be bound by the conservation restriction’s terms. If you donate a conservation restriction to Orenda, Orenda will be responsible for making sure these terms are followed.
A conservation restriction may also offer you tax savings, including an income tax-deductible charitable donation and reduced property taxes. You should consult with a tax advisor for more information on tax savings related to conservation restrictions.
A conservation restriction can also provide a way to pass land on to your heirs, while limiting their tax liability. By removing the land’s development potential, the restriction lowers its market value, which in turn lowers both estate and property taxes.
Whether you choose to donate a conservation restriction during your lifetime or by your will, such a provision can make a critical difference in protecting and preserving your land and precious wildlife habitat in perpetuity.
What Should I Do Next?
If you have land you would like to see preserved and protected by Orenda for wildlife habitat:
- Contact Orenda. Orenda can help you develop a land conservation plan appropriate for your needs, and can guide you through the process of working with attorneys, appraisers, accountants and land planners who are familiar with land protection techniques. Call us at 508-362-4798 or Email us at email@example.com
- Talk with your own legal and financial advisors. The information provided here is intended only as an overview of possible options. You should make decisions affecting the ownership and use of your property after careful consideration and professional consultation.
- Read further. Several publications discussing donation, conservation restrictions and other conservation techniques are available from the Land Trust Alliance and the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition. The Compact of Cape Cod Conservation Trusts also offers information on conservation options for private land owners.