Southern Conservation Trust prepares a draft of the conservation easement (CE) deed for a landowner. There is no charge for this service, although we encourage you to make a donation to cover these costs. Once you authorize us to prepare a CE, we may ask that you provide us with a non-refundable, good-faith deposit which will be applied to the stewardship fund contribution.
We recommend you retain your own attorney to review the easement before the document is ultimately signed and recorded.
Survey and Marking Boundary
If your property boundaries are unclear or in dispute, a survey may be required. The cost of a survery is your resonsibility as the landowner.
There may be other reasons why a survey and marking of boundaries would be important to have. For example, if you wish to delineate a portion of the property for future development, agriculture use, timber harvesting, etc. In such cases, the Trust will discuss these details with you before a surveyor is retained.
The cost of the survey is dependent upon many factors, such as acreage, survey method, and property terrain. You should request the surveyor give you an estimate before the work begins, including a break down of the fees and and any other anticipated costs.
Southern Conservation Trust can provide a list of appraisers experienced with conservation easement appraisals. IRS regulations require that the landowner retain the appraiser. You should ask the appraiser in advance for their fee structure.
The appraisal must be dated no more than 60 days prior to the date of the easement. However, an appraisal may be completed after the easement is recorded and by the date the income tax return, which includes the tax credit or deduction, is filed. You may choose to obtain a preliminary appraisal early in the process of determining whether or not an easement meets your financial goals. You can then update the appraisal in the appropriate time frame.
Contribution to the Stewardship and Legal/Defense Funds
When Southern Conservation Trust accepts a conservation easement from a landowner, we take on a perpetual obligation to uphold the terms of the easement. To meet this obligation, the Trust’s Board of Directors has committed funds to establish both a Stewardship Fund and a Legal Defense Fund. This policy also satisfies the IRS regulations which state that the easement holder “must have the resources to enforce the restrictions” of the easements.
It is the Trust’s expectation that you participate in this effort by providing a donation. Southern Conservation Trust will provide you with an estimate of future costs for monitoring and enforcing the easement, which serves as a guideline for the contribution. The Fund/s are held separately from the funds used for the Trust’s general operating expenses.
Conservation easement deeds may be subject to a Recording Fee and Transfer Tax. These fees are your responsibility, as a landowner, at the
time of recording the deed. If Southern Conservation Trust records the deed, these fees will be charged back to you.
If your property is mortgaged, you will need to obtain a mortgage subordination agreement from the mortgage holder. This agreement protects the easement in the event of foreclosure. There may be a fee for preparing, executing, and recording such an agreement.
If you have a complex estate and income tax considerations, you may feel it is necessary to seek additional professional advice. This is a personal decision and is dependent upon your particular situation.
Please let us know if paying any of these costs presents problems for you. If you are unable to contribute to these costs, it may be difficult for us to play a part in preserving your land. As much as we’d like to help, we must be able to cover the future expenses of monitoring the land we are responsible for.
We are happy to review the expenses with you to determine if there is a way to reduce your costs. The Trust has limited funds; however, in critical situations, it is possible that the Trust may be able to make a financial contribution to reduce the burden.