Idaho Falls Conservation Easement Attorneys
Choose Experts in Conservation Easements
At Freedom Law, we are extremely well-versed in matters of real estate. Our Idaho Falls conservation easement lawyers have over 15 years of experience and are ready to offer dedicated legal support. If you considering a conservation easement, we can negotiate the terms, walk you through what the agreement can accomplish, and complete all legal formalities. Our firm frequently handles these cases and can help you make the most of this unique opportunity.
Schedule a free initial consultation with our conservation easement attorneys by calling (208) 271-4403or contacting us online. We offer flexible payment options and provide our legal services in English and Spanish.
What is Conservation Easement?
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement a homeowner can make with a government agency or qualified nonprofit that restricts the types of development that can take place on their property in the years to come. In addition to preserving the long-term environmental health of the property, these agreements can offer a variety of financial advantages to the homeowner.
How Do Conservation Easements Work?
Only government agencies and qualified nonprofit land trusts can implement a conservation easement with a landowner. Each conservation easement is different, with the specifics customized to suit each party’s preferences and goals.
When a landowner agrees to a conservation easement, they retain control of their private property – within certain limits. The conservation easement will include certain restrictions on what can no longer be done on the land. For example, say a landowner owns a large swath of land that includes a small residence as well as untouched natural environments. The conservation easement may forbid the natural environments from ever being developed, but the landowner will still be able to live in their residence. These terms can be negotiated.
Once an agreement has been reached, the conservation easement becomes part of the property’s deed. In most cases, the easement is perpetual, meaning it cannot be removed or reversed.
Keep in mind that not all properties will necessarily qualify for a conservation easement. The land must offer some significant natural resource that will be protected through the agreement. Our Idaho Falls conservation easement attorneys can evaluate your property and advise whether its attributes are likely to attract the interest of a nonprofit or the government.
Benefits of a Conservation Easement
Many landowners are concerned about their long-term impact on the environment and are committed to preventing unwanted or damaging development in the future. A conservation easement readily accomplishes these objectives, guaranteeing the property cannot be used in ways prohibited by the agreement.
A conservation easement also offers several financial and estate planningadvantages, including:
- A Personal Income Tax Deduction. The conservation easement is considered a “gift” under the law, meaning you may be able to a federal tax income deduction commensurate to the value of the gift.
- Lower Property Value. This may sound like a disadvantage, but there are certain situations where a landowner might be seeking to intentionally lower their property’s value. A conservation easement reduces the value of the property it encumbers because future buyers will still be bound by the agreement’s restrictions. Landowners with large estates may be subject to federal estate taxes. Property value is part of a person’s taxable estate, so by lowering it, the landowner may be able to avoid or reduce the impact of estate taxes when they pass away. This can prevent a situation where a landowner’s descendants are forced to sell a property to pay an overwhelming estate tax bill.
- Lower Property Taxes. Because the conservation easement will reduce a property’s value, the landowner may enjoy lower property tax obligations on the encumbered property.
Conservation easements are not right for every situation. You should not use them if you do not want to lower your property value or suspect a permanent encumbrance could jeopardize the financial circumstances of your heirs. Our Idaho Falls conservation easement lawyers at Freedom Law can review the broad advantages and disadvantages of these agreements and provide tailored guidance on how entering one may specifically impact you.
Have questions about conservation easements? Call (208) 271-4403or contact us onlineto discuss your concerns with our team of conservation easement lawyers.
Conservation Easement And Tax Deductions
In order to qualify for a tax deduction, the donation of land value must provide one or more of the following “conservation values” listed below:
- Public recreation and/or education
- Scenic enjoyment
- Preserves history and culture
- Habitat for significant wildlife
- Farmland or forestland
The conservation easement must also be permanent and “run with the land”, meaning that all future owners must follow the same terms in the current conservation easement.
What Is The Conservation Easement Process?
If you are thinking about a conservation easement, we explain the basics of the process below. However, there may be other details involved in terms of negotiations helping you understand the paperwork, and more. Do not hesitate to speak with our experienced Idaho lawyer Aaron J. Tolson for a free consultation.
Steps to the conservation easement process:
- Discussions and landowner development plans -- if you are the landowner, you must discuss the long-term goals for the property
- Gather information and baseline assessment of the property -- document the resource values of the proposal and look at the history of the property, its current uses, and distinct features (wildlife, soils, geology, man-made features, recreational value, scenic value, etc.)
- Draft the easement agreement - landowner, easement holder, and attorneys work together to draf this. Negotiations between the landowner and easement holders will occur to ensure that the landowner’s goals are met while also protecting the conservation values
- Property appraisal - landowner is responsible for getting an appraiser to assess the value of the easement donation. The value will then be presented to the IRS for tax purposes.
- Sign and record the easement - all easements must be approved by and recorded at the courthouse in the correct county
- Monitor the easement - the group who accepts the easement is responsible for making sure that the terms of the easement are followed -- typically, monitoring of the property happens once or twice a year
For more information, speak with our Idaho Falls conservation easement attorney during a free consultation. Contact Tolson & Wayment online or call (208) 271-4403.
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It is generally a smart idea to get title insurance even if you perform a thorough title search on the property you are intending to purchase. Title insurance can offer financial security if an unexpected title issue arises down the road.
What Are the Advantages of a Conservation Easement?
Beyond environmental mindfulness, a conservation easement can provide considerable tax and estate planning benefits. Because conservation easements cannot typically be undone, they lower a property’s value, thus lowering the property owner’s overall taxable estate. The property owner may also be able to deduct the value of the conservation easement on their personal tax return.
What Is a Conservation Easement in Idaho or Montana?
A conservation easement is a type of voluntary agreement made between a property owner and either a qualifying nonprofit or a government agency. When a property owner decides to establish a conservation easement, they agree to permanently limit the types of development that can occur on that property. For example, a conservation easement on a property with a forest teeming with natural resources may mandate that the forest never be torn down or developed. A conservation easement becomes part of the property’s deed.