EASEMENT DONATION GUIDELINES
After discussions with a landowner have led to a conceptual agreement regarding the sale or donation of a conservation easement, The Global Cooling Network (GCN) will follow the steps below to accept the easement donation.
1. Qualified Appraisal
If the easement is being donated, GCN's expectation is that the donor will obtain a qualified appraisal at the donor's cost. If GCN is contemplating purchasing an easement, then both the landowner and GCN will obtain their own appraisals. If the landowner wants to claim a charitable tax deduction for donating an easement, the IRS requires the landowner to obtain a "qualified appraisal" to justify the value of a donation over $5,000. Treasury regulations require that the appraisal be made not earlier than 60 days before the date of the gift.
2. Intent to Engage
Between the time GCN comes to an agreement with a donor and the time GCN is ready to acquire the easement, a title search must be completed, an environmental assessment may be ordered, and GCN may need time to raise funds to cover the purchase price. To document the parties commitment during this period, which often can take several months, a written agreement documenting the parties' intention to reach an agreement may be prepared and signed by the parties.
3. Baseline Documentation
An analysis of the property's conservation values needs to be performed. This is an IRS requirement for landowners who intend to take a charitable tax deduction and will support GCN in conducting meaningful inspections in the future. The report – called "baseline documentation" – describes the condition of the property at the time the easement is placed on it and identifies the property's important resources and any threats to those resources. GCN will contract with conservation biologists or environmental consultants to prepare the baseline documentation.
4. Title Search
GCN will perform a title search to check for liens, encumbrances, or other problems with the property's title for any potential donation. Title information furnishes the legal property description that must be included in any land transfer document. GCN will determine whether or not it is appropriate to acquire a title insurance policy. Title insurance protects GCN from financial loss resulting from defects in the property's title, other than defects that are listed and excluded from the title insurance policy.
5. Environmental Assessment
For every easement GCN acquires, GCN will first inspect the property (and view neighboring properties to the extent possible), review the property's (and neighboring properties') past uses, research public records and permits for indications of past problems, and document all steps taken in the investigation. An initial assessment may recommend analysis of soil and water samples from the property. GCN will terminate the transaction if the environmental assessment uncovers problems that are unacceptable.
6. Conservation Easement Donation Agreement
GCN will prepare an easement document, which will list mutually agreed-upon use and development restrictions and will specify which parcels (or portions of parcels) are covered by those restrictions.
If the boundaries of the property are unclear or in dispute, or if grant funds are being used in the transaction, GCN may pay for a survey to be performed.
8. Stewardship Fund
To fulfill monitoring and enforcement responsibilities, GCN will require a stewardship contribution with every conservation easement. This contribution may come from sources other than the landowner. The suggested donation amount will be calculated by estimating the staff time, travel expenses, and potential legal services needed to monitor, service, and enforce the easement.
If GCN is purchasing the easement, GCN will schedule a real estate closing once all the conditions of the sales agreement have been satisfied. If the easement is being donated, a formal closing is unnecessary.
Benefits to You
A tax deduction.
Reduced property taxes because a nonprofit organization is holding the easement.
Benefits to Global Cooling Network
GCN will inform you of things that are being handled as you indicated in the original easement document.
GCN will reap the benefits of knowing the planet is being taken care of because the property is being utilized in an environmentally friendly manner.
Protecting the World’s Most Endangered Species