Land Conservation Easements
By Rep. Dorothy Pelanda (R-Marysville)
October 18, 2013
[ Dorothy Pelanda Home | Dorothy Pelanda Press ]

I recently held a town hall meeting on Land Conservation Easements.  Here were some questions from the audience that will illustrate the concept:

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a property owner and a conservation organization or the County Soil and Water Conservation District.  Its purpose is to preserve the property as farmland or natural habitat forever.

Who Can Grant an Easement?

Any landowner may grant a conservation easement to any qualified conservation organization entity.

What are the benefits of an easement?

Besides an up-front payment to you for the creation of an easement (currently $2,000 per acre) and the potential for an income tax deduction, you have an opportunity to leave a “legacy for the future”, including the lasting protection of rare or endangered habitats, the preservation of family lands and historical sites for future generations, and the preservation of the incredible beauty of Ohio for all to enjoy and cherish.

Can I still farm my land?

Yes, this is designed to encourage the practice of sustainable farming and the values of family farms.

Can I harvest timber from my property?

Yes, if the easement is written to allow timbering.  A timber management plan must become part of the easement.

Can I make improvements on my property?

Yes, within the limits of the terms in your easement that we mutually create.

Does a conservation easement affect ownership of my property?

It does not. You still have total ownership and use of your property within the restrictions established by the easement.

Can I still use my property as I desire?

Yes, as long as what you do does not violate your easement.

How does a conservation easement affect my property taxes?

In most cases there will be little or no change.  If the easement results in an unlikely reduction of property value, then the property taxes may be reduced.

Does a conservation easement cost me money?

Yes, the creation of an easement does have some legal expense to create and monitor. Assistance will be available in preparing your easement and completing the necessary paperwork to create your easement at no charge to you.  However, it is strongly encouraged that you seek legal counsel and the advice of a qualified tax professional when creating your easement.

How does an easement affect my estate tax?

If a conservation easement has restrictive features that potentially reduce the appraised value of the subject property, then the heirs to the property may have reduced estate taxes at inheritance.  If a property is gifted to a charitable organization as a direct donation, or through a will, there could be significant tax benefits to the property owner’s estate.

Can I sell my land or give it to my descendants?

Yes, an easement does not affect ownership control. The easement continues with the deed of ownership to all subsequent owners.

Can an easement be revoked?

No. Only in extremely rare instances or unusual circumstances may an easement be reversed.  It is important to discuss this Estate-Plan option with your family and your estate lawyer. 

Your thoughts and ideas are welcome.

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