A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization, such as the Heritage Trust, that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect the special features of the property, such as wildlife habitat, forests, wetlands, agricultural land, or scenic vistas. A conservation easement allows you to continue to own and use your land, and also sell it or pass it on to your heirs.
With a conservation easement, you place restrictions on how your land is used, both now and in the future. You then donate (or, in rare circumstances, sell) that easement to a conservation organization, such as the Heritage Trust, which agrees to enforce the restrictions.
A conservation easement is tailored to satisfy your needs and to ensure that the special conservation values of the land are protected. The restrictions set forth in a conservation easement run with the title to your property forever.
To learn more about the tax benefits of protecting your land with a conservation easement, contact the Heritage Trust or your tax advisor.
Donate Your Land
Donate Your Land Outright
You may donate your land outright to the Heritage Trust. The Trust might retain ownership of the property as a nature preserve, transfer the property to another conservation organization, or sell the property. In some cases, the land may be sold subject to a conservation easement held by the Heritage Trust. If the Trust decides to sell a donated property, proceeds from the sale will raise much needed funds for the Heritage Trust’s work and help protect even more land on Lummi Island. The full market value of land donated to the Heritage Trust is a tax-deductible charitable gift.
Donate Your Land through a Bequest in your Will
A gift of land or real estate by bequest is recorded in your will and the donation is made at the time of your death. You retain full use and control of the property during your lifetime, but you have the assurance that your gift will be Preserving the Nature of Lummi Island when you are gone.
When making a bequest, it's important to develop a conservation plan with the Heritage Trust to insure that the Heritage Trust will be able to accept your donation when you pass. You may find this Bequest Information Form helpful as you begin to think through your plans.
To learn more about including the Heritage Trust in your estate plans, contact the Heritage Trust or your financial advisor.
Donate a Reserved Life Estate
A reserved life estate allows you to turn over your land to the Heritage Trust during your lifetime, while still reserving the right to live on it and use it during your lifetime or the lifetimes of other designated family members through a provision in the deed. In this way, you know the Heritage Trust has accepted your gift, but actual possession doesn't take place until your death.
The income tax benefits of a donation with reserved life estate are greater than for a donation by bequest, but less than for an outright donation. To learn more about the tax benefits of a reserved life estate, contact your tax accountant.