Protect the land permanently (long term)
Conservation Easement (restriction) – A legal agreement between a land owner and a land conservancy that permanently limits a property’s uses in order to protect its conservation values. The conservancy is given the right to monitor the property and enforce the terms of the easement on the present and all future owners. They may be deductible as a charitable donation depending upon the donor’s particular tax status.
Protect the land temporarily (short term)
Deed Restrictions – Restrictions in a deed that guides the future use of the property. These restrictions are less permanent than conservation easements/restrictions, because they must be renewed every 30 years. They may be released upon agreement of future property owners. Plus, they do not create a tax deduction in most cases.
Term Easements (restriction) – These documents are similar to the permanent easements described above except they are for a term of years and do not generally provide tax deductions benefits.
Mutual Covenants – Adjacent property owners may want to conserve a shared feature such as a stream or wildlife corridor. They may run for no more than 30 years, unless rerecorded on the deed.
Lease or License to a Land Conservancy – It is permission or a personal privilege with respect to some use of the land that is revocable at the will of the landowner. A lease can provide for use of, or access to, land important to a conservancy.
Management Agreement with a Land Conservancy – These agreements are written for a defined term, usually short term, to help the conservancy care for the natural or scenic features of your land. They are renewable and usually provide for revocation by either party.
Donations of Land or Interests in Land
Donation of Land by Will (bequests, devises or testamentary donations) – With a will you receive no income tax benefit at the time of the creation of the will, and you continue to be responsible for property taxes during your lifetime. Donating land to a land conservancy by will removes the property from your estate and can reduce the estate taxes faced by your heirs. A will is reversible and can be rewritten.
Donation of an Undivided Interest – To take advantage of the potential charitable tax deductions generated by a large charitable gift, the owner may spread the gift over a number of years by donating a series of portions of undivided interest in the property of a land conservancy. They are not separate parcels, but a percentage (10%, 20%, etc.) of the full interest in a property. Undivided interests are shared jointly with one or more parties. The majority owner does not necessarily control the property. Working with an experienced attorney to establish this is important.
Donation of a Remainder Interest –If a landowner gives land to a land conservancy, but retains the right (for himself or some other person or persons) to live on or use the land for their lifetimes or a specific number of years (reserved life estate), then the interest is called a “remainder interest.”
Sale at Fair Market Value – The price at which a willing buyer would purchase a property and a willing seller would sell the same property, when neither party is under any compulsion to buy or sell, and each party has full knowledge of all of the facts relating to the sale.
Bargain Sale – The sale of land or interest in land to a qualified conservation organization at a price less than the fair market value. A bargain sale is partly a sale and partly a charitable gift. The difference between the fair market value and the bargain sale price may be tax deductible to the seller as a charitable contribution to a qualified conservation organization.
Installment Sale – A contract that allows land to be purchased now and paid for over a period of time by a specific number of installments.
Charitable Remainder Trust and Charitable Lead Trusts – These are specialized planned giving structures that can help a landowner mitigate taxes on income from the sale of assets by establishment of a Trust that has a charitable purpose. It is important to work with an experienced attorney to establish a qualified vehicle that meets your goals and objectives.
Option to Purchase – If the owner wants to sell the land, but the conservancy does not have the funds to buy it immediately, the owner may give or sell an option to buy the property. An option to purchase gives the conservancy the right to acquire a specific property at a specific price for a stated period of time.
Right of First Refusal – The owner agrees to sell the land to the conservancy at the same price and terms as those in a bona fide offer to purchase received by the owner. The conservancy has the right to match the future offer, subject to certain conditions.