Conservation Easement Q & A

Provided by the Land Trust Alliance

How long does a conservation easement last?

Most easements “run with the land,” binding the original owner and all subsequent owners to the easement’s restrictions. Only gifts of perpetual easements can qualify for income and estate tax benefits. The easement is recorded at the county or town records office so that all future owners and lenders will learn about the restrictions when they obtain title reports.

What are a land trust’s responsibilities regarding conservation easements?

The land trust holding the easement is responsible for enforcing the restrictions that the easement document spells out. Therefore, the land trust monitors the property on a regular basis — typically once a year — to determine that the property remains in the condition prescribed by the easement document. The land trust maintains written records of these monitoring visits, which also provide the landowner a chance to keep in touch with the land trust. Many land trusts establish endowments to provide for long-term stewardship of the easements they hold.

What steps should I take to write a conservation easement?

First, contact Barrington Area Conservation Trust (847) 387-3149 to become acquainted with our organization and our services. Together, we can discuss the conservation values you want to protect, and development rights you may want to retain. For example, you may already have one home on your property and want to preserve the right to build another home. This is one provision that must be specifically written into an easement agreement. Be sure to consult with other family members, your attorney, and your financial adviser regarding an easement.