How to Set Up a Conservation Easement

Creating a conservation easement doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Let’s walk through the basic steps:

  • Decide on your vision. Think about your wishes, needs and objectives for your land. Consult with family members who are involved in or would be affected by your choices for the land, as well as your attorney, tax or financial advisor and any other experts who can assist you with the process.
  • Check out potential partners. Contact land trusts and government agencies that work to assist landowners in your community who are interested in conservation. Get to know their policies and services, and discuss what you’d like to accomplish on your land and what rights you’d like to keep. Review any materials you’ve received from potential partners with your family and with legal and tax advisors, and decide if you’d like to move forward.
  • Get checked out. If you’ve chosen your potential partner, a representative from that agency or land trust may visit your property to evaluate its condition and suitability for an easement, and to consult with you again about the objectives and terms you wish to include in your agreement.
  • Take the plunge. Once you’ve settled on the right partner and the right terms for your conservation easement, you may come to a preliminary agreement. The agency or land trust board will decide whether to approve the agreement. If it does, and if your title, mortgage (if any) and IRS requirements are met, you may finalize the conservation easement. The signed documents will need to be recorded at the county courthouse.
  • Build your partnership. Your partner may ask for a donation to cover the costs of monitoring and enforcing the easement indefinitely. Thereafter, your partner will be responsible for monitoring your property once or twice per year to make sure that all the easement conditions are met.

As you can see, finding and working with the right partner for your conservation easement is a big part of the process. But with more than 1,700 potential partners across the country to choose from, how do you find the best one for your needs?

Next: Partners for Conservation Easements 

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