Working Land Easements
1.) If a working land conservation easement is to be placed with a land trust, what are the out of pocket costs to the donor and / or the land trust?
The costs incurred in connection with establishing an easement may be allocated in different ways, depending on the wishes of the donor and the capacity of the land trust. The following is a list of potential costs:
- Accountant fees for professional advice regarding potential tax benefits.
- Appraisal costs for determining the value of the easement (necessary only if landowner is interested / eligible to receive a tax benefit).
- Surveying costs for establishing clear boundary lines.
- Attorney fees for certification of title.
- Attorney fees for drafting and /or review of the easement.
- Preparation of baseline data (may be gathereed by land trust at no cost to landowner).
- Filing fees at the registry of deeds.
- Donation to the land trust to cover stewardship costs.
2.) Are there tax benefits to placing a conservation easement on land?
Yes, in some cases. Land owners may be eligible to receive a federal income tax credit equal to 29% of the total value of the easement.
3.) What conditions/restrictions can be applicable to a conservation easement?
Each conservation easement is drafted to meet the needs of the landowner (grantor) and the requirements of the land trust (holder). Working land conservation easements are drafted to be as flexible as possible in order to promote continued use of the land for sustainable forestry and or agriculture. For instance, a limited amount of future building envelopes can be created for residential and/or farm and forest activities.
4.) Can I put a conservation easement on only a portion of my land?
Yes. A landowner may choose to protect an entire parcel of land or only specified parts of the property.
5.) How does a conservation easement affect my ownership?
By placing a conservation easement on property, the landowner does not give up ownership of the land and may continue to live on it or lease, sell, or pass it on to heirs.
6.) What could happen to make a landowner regret placing a conservation easement on their land?
Conservation Easements permanently alter permissable land use practices for a property. Any development or subdivision not addressed in the easement may or may not be permitted, at the discretion of the land trust. For example, if an easement specifies that clear-cut forestry is not permitted the land owner will no longer have the option to “clearcut the back forty” in order to gain quick cash.
7.) What happens when the property is sold?
When the property is sold the new landowner receives it subject to the restrictions of the easement as specified on the deed. The land trust will want to establish a good working relationship with the new owners to ensure continued compliance with the easement.
8.) What information should one acquire before committing to a conservation easement?
In addition to being fully advised as to the legal implications of a conservation easement, the donor should consider input from family and anyone else who might have a future interest in the property. Family members may have different perspectives on the value and potential of the property. Discussions with all potentially affected parties will allow the donor to make a fully informed decision as to whether or not to proceed.
9.) What if the land trust holding the easement becomes inactive or dissolves?
Conservation easements contain language that specifically states the easement may be transferred to another entity that meets the requirements to hold such easements according to the New Brunswick Conservation Easements Act. If the trust cannot maintain its requirements to monitor and enforce easements, it must find an entity that is capable and willing to do so in its stead (ie: another land trust or non-profit that meets the specified requirements).