Wild Land Gifts
Donating land to be preserved as wilderness is one of the finest legacies a person can leave to future generations. Donating property releases landowners from the responsibility of managing the land and can sometimes provide substantial tax deductions and tax benefits. Most important, if the land is donated to the Northeast Wilderness Trust for its conservation value, it will be protected as forever wild.
An outright gift of wild land may be the best conservation strategy for landowners who want to preserve their land as wild but do not wish to pass the land on to heirs. Also, wildland owners who no longer use their property or who would like to be relieved of the responsibility of managing and caring for it should consider donating the land for wilderness. Owners of highly appreciated property or landowners who have substantial real estate holdings and wish to reduce estate tax burdens might also consider an outright gift of land.
Gift of Remainder Interest
One alternative to an outright donation is the gift of a remainder interest and reserved life estate. In this arrangement, the landowner donates the property during his or her lifetime, but continues to use the property. When the landowner dies, or sooner if s/he chooses, the land trust gains full title and control over the property.
By donating a remainder interest, landowners may continue to enjoy their land and may be eligible for an income tax deduction when the gift is made. The deduction is based on the fair market value of the donated property less the expected value of the reserved life estate.
Gift by Will
Landowners may also donate their land by will to the Northeast Wilderness Trust. This is an option for individuals who want to own and control their land during their lifetime, but assure its protection as forever wild after their death. Before a landowner considers including the gift in his/her will, however, it is strongly recommended that s/he discuss the potential gift with the Trust so that both parties are clear about the donor’s wishes for the future of the land.