“Conservation is a state of harmony between man and land.”
– The Land Ethic
Donating land to the Harvard Conservation Trust, to another land trust, or to a public conservation agency, is the simplest form of permanent land protection. An added benefit is that the land will be managed and protected in perpetuity by a conservation organization of the landowner’s choosing. There are several options to consider when gifting land, depending on the donor’s wishes. A landowner should always consult with their tax and legal professional when evaluating which option is best for them.
Outright gift of Land
Landowners may wish to donate land for one or more of the following reasons: 1) they possess a conservation ethic and would like to see the property protected in perpetuity; 2) they own a property that has had a high appreciation in value; 3) they wish to reduce their real estate tax burden; 4) the property is no longer used or wanted; and 5) the property is considered unbuildable and has conservation value.
- Permanent protection of open space
- The fair market value of the property is generally tax-deductible
- The real estate tax burden is eliminated
- The size of the estate is reduced, thereby reducing future state and federal tax consequences
Donation of Land by Bequest
In this scenario, a landowner can opt to bequest land in their will to a land conservation organization.
- Allows the landowner enjoyment of their property during their
- If during a landowner’s lifetime circumstances change, the will can
- Removes the property from the estate which reduces the tax burden
for the heirs
Reserved life Estate
In this option, the landowner can donate land to a conservation organization but continues to use the property until their death. The longer the period of expected use by the donor the lower the value of the gift for tax purposes.
- A charitable deduction is derived from the donation depending on
the landowners life expectancy
- The landowner continues to enjoy their use of the property