Working with a land trust
Radio interview source: Kris Larson, Executive Director, Minnesota Land Trust
You won't be around to enjoy your land forever, but you can secure its future. A land trust is a way for you to make sure your property stays intact and is used according to your wishes.
Kris Larson is the executive director of the Minnesota Land Trust. He says there are roughly 1,700 non-profit land trust organizations around the U.S. They are dedicated to helping preserve property that has public benefit. The option often used is a conservation easement.
"It depends on where you are in the country, and in some cases there are direct payments that can be received if you're putting a conservation easement on your property," Larson says. "There are both federal and state programs that can be activated, or land owners can access to do conservation. There are also federal income tax benefits that can come into play for land owners that donate qualified conservation easements."
Those qualifications include land that provides natural habitat, historic significance, recreation, scenic quality, or agricultural benefit. Larson says a land trust also helps with the estate planning process. It starts a conversation about how the property is going to be transferred, and who's going to get it.
"A lot of land owners that are looking at trying to figure out their property as part of their estate, realize that rather than have four-or-five different children, or heirs, fighting over the property," Larson says. This really helps set the tone of the property in the future and knowing it can't be divided, really helps make that decision today, and really helps ease some of the tension that can come around down the road."
To set up a land trust, Larson recommends finding an organization that might have an interest in your land, and contact it to see if your property qualifies. You may also want advice from a lawyer or tax adviser.
Get more information from the Land Trust Alliance.
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