What Exactly is a Conservation Easement?

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High corn cropsAn easement is an agreement between the owner of the land and another party to allow the other party to use a portion of the land. The agreement might or might not be in writing depending on the circumstances. A conservation easement, on the other hand, is a more specialized type of easement between a landowner and another party that’s typically either the government or land conversation organization. A conservation easement agreement is voluntary and must be formalized through a written agreement.

The Goal of Conservation Easements

Put simply, the goal of creating a conservation easement is to safeguard or conserve the land or at least some part of it. As land trusts mainly exist to conserve various kinds of natural resources in specific areas, one of their main priorities is to acquire conservation easements.

Cantleydietrich.com and other top litigation lawyers in Georgia noted that a conservation easement is attached to the land and not the landowner. This means that if the landowner sells their land, the conservation easement would still remain in effect because once the agreement has been set in place, the terms are permanent.

Conservation easements could also offer tax benefits to the landowner in terms of estate tax and income tax. However, the landowner is legally responsible for ensuring that everyone involved complies with the easement terms. However, it’s vital to note that conservation easements might lower a land’s value since the land holding the easement might not be developed, like into a subdivision.

Why Granting a Conservation Easement Might be Beneficial

Green field in a rowAside from the tax advantages of granting a conservation easement, it enables landowners to maintain the property’s title while safeguarding some aspect of it.

For example, you might want to safeguard your land’s scenic views and quality of water, use your property for farming in the future, enable the natural development of the forest, or protect the wildlife. The government agency or land trust you’d be granting the conservation easement to is likewise interested in safeguarding these aspects of your property, so it’s essentially a win-win situation.

Terms of Typical Conservation Easements

It’s a given that you might want to retain specific uses of your property. In this case, you need to clearly spell out your terms in your conservation easement agreement. In turn, you also need to agree to the terms of the government agency or land trust. In the event that there are issues, you could work it out with the other party as long as your planned use of the land isn’t in conflict with the conservation’s purposes.

As you could see from above, the laws regarding conservation easements are complex. Aside from that, laws differ significantly from one state to another. When considering granting a conservation easement, it’s ideal that you work with a local attorney that would help you in negotiating the terms of the easement to help make certain that your interests would be upheld and protected. Your attorney would likewise be able to inform you of the tax implications of granting a conservative easement.

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