Your land is a part of your legacy. You have been a good steward of your land. Deciding what will happen to your land after you are gone is the next critical step of being a good steward. In fact it may be the most important step you can take as a landowner. Who will own your land and how will it be used? What will your legacy be?
Your land is likely one of your most valuable assets, especially if you have owned it for a long time and it has increased in value. However, there is more to land than just its financial value. Because land can be connected to memories, experiences, and feelings, your land may also have significant personal value. Deciding what to do with your land brings with it the challenge of providing for both these financial and personal needs.
Some of your family may be interested in receiving personal value from the land by keeping it in its current, natural state. Others may be interested in receiving financial value from the land or in obtaining a piece of land to build a home. And, of course, it is also possible that your family may want or need a little of both. The good news is that land is a flexible asset that lends itself to creative solutions for gaining both personal and financial value from it. However, it does take some planning.
An estate is the total of all of your assets, including your land. An estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed in a way that will meet the financial and personal needs of you and your family. An estate plan isn’t one all encompassing document. It is best thought of as a process that includes the development of a combination of documents (such as a will) and tools (such as conservation restrictions) that achieve your goals when implemented together.
Estate planning is not just for the wealthy or for those who own “estates” – if you own land, then estate planning is a necessary and valuable step to ensure that the legacy of your land is a positive one!
The following pages can help you take the next step in deciding the future of your land to ensure it meets your needs and the needs of your family: