Tools We Use
Owning a parcel of land is
often described as holding a bundle of rights.
Landowners can sell or give away the entire bundle,
or relinquish only a few of the rights they own as
they see fit. Some of their rights include the right
to use the land, right to sell, the right to plat or
restrict development in order to protect the lands’
The Sunflower Land Trust was formed to protect land
while at the same time meeting the landowner’s
conservation and financial objectives. Sunflower
Land Trust uses a variety of time tested
conservation tools in order to accomplish their
mission. The more common techniques include:
Life Estate -
This mechanism reserves to the landowner the right
to live on their land for the rest of their life
regardless of ownership. In some instances, the
owner may wish to transfer the land to the Sunflower
Land Trust and continue to reside on the land or
have access for the remainder of their lives. If
they chose to do so, they can remove themselves from
the management responsibility of the land.
- This tool allows the land to be developed on a
limited scale that is less than the maximum
possible. For example, a parcel of land may have the
development potential of 10 forty acre units.
However, the landowner may want to limit the
subdivision of the property into two 200 hundred
acre parcels. The limited development tool divides
the property and permanently removes the two parcels
from further subdivision processes..
- In areas with favorable zoning regulations, a
landowner can choose to maximize the full
development potential of their land while removing
the majority of the land from future development.
For example, a 100 acres of land may have the
potential to be divided into ten 10 acre parcels.
Under the cluster development concept, the land can
have all of the ten sites located in one corner of
the property on 20 acres (for example, 10 two acres
building sites), while the remaining property is
placed under a conservation easement to protect it
from future development.
- This commonly used tool allows the landowner to
retain ownership of their land, while at the same
time permanently restrict some of the future uses.
Conservation easements are a legal document that
convey to a qualified organization, (e.g. Sunflower
Land Trust) the restriction the owner may wish to
remove from the property. The land trust will become
the permanent holder of the easement. The landowner
will keep the remaining interest in the land. When a
landowner chooses to do so, he or she, may sell the
land or pass it to their heirs, knowing the land
trust will keep the restrictions in force.
Conservation easements are flexible in their
creation and do offer the landowner a variety of
choices. They create a benefit to the community, but
do not necessarily open the land for public usage,
unless the landowner desires it to be so.
Charitable Remainder Trust
- This tool allows the landowner to gift the
property to the land trust, have the land trust sell
the property for them with the proceeds going into
an annuity account for the landowner. This mechanism
avoids the capital gain tax and allows the owner to
enjoy a monthly payment from the interest on the
monies raised from the sale.
Transfer By Demise - this is a transfer mechanism
using a will to transfer of the property. In this
manner the owner retains all rights and privileges
of land ownership until their demise. Upon their
death the land will transfer to the land trust.
Despite the tool selected, each becomes a legal
agreement that is tailored to protect the land while
at the same time maximizing the benefits to the
landowner. Since each individual situation is
unique, landowners are encouraged to contact the
Sunflower Land Trust in order to determine the tool
that would be best suited to meet their conservation
and financial objectives.