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You can donate your land and your home to the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust and continue to live there for the rest of your life. Your gift will immediately qualify for a charitable contribution deduction for a portion of the value of your property, which will be excluded from your taxable estate.

How You Benefit:

  • Permanent protection of your land
  • State and federal income tax savings
  • State and federal capital gains tax savings for any appreciation over the original cost of your property
  • State inheritance tax savings and, if the value of your estate is more than the current exclusion, federal estate tax savings.


Assumptions: Your residence has an appraised value of $400,000, with $200,000 being the value of the house itself and an additional $200,000 for the land. Your basis in the property is $100,000.  You are 72 years old and your home has a useful life of forty-five years, after which time it would have a remaining value of $50,000.

You donate your land and your home to us now, but you want to continue living in your home exactly as you presently do for the rest of your life. You may claim up to $281,559 as a charitable deduction (based in part on your life expectancy) from your adjusted gross income on your federal tax return. In addition, the total value of your home and your land is removed from your taxable estate.

Please note two points:

The value of the deduction for this example is limited to 30 percent of your adjusted gross income. The unused portion of this deduction, if any, can be used for tax deduction purposes for a total of six years.

If you include restrictions on how we may use the property once your life estate ends, your deduction may be significantly reduced further because of Internal Revenue Service requirements.

Your Tax Savings with a Retained Life Estate:

  • Appraised value of your residence $200,000
  • Appraised value of your land $200,000
  • Amount immediately qualifying for a charitable donation $281,559
  • Amount effectively removed from your taxable estate for $400,000

Protecting Your Land Later Through Your Will or Trust

You can donate either a conservation easement or title to your property to the Trust after your death through a gift in your will or trust. Such a donation would remove the value of your land from your taxable estate.

If you wish us to protect this land forever as a wildlife sanctuary, we encourage you to first consult with us to determine whether or not we agree that your land is suitable as a permanent wildlife sanctuary. Doing so increases the probability that we would accept your gift and the permanent protection responsibilities your gift of land would then require of us.

If we determine that your property is suitable for permanent protection as a wildlife sanctuary, we and your advisors can assist you in placing adequate provisions in your will or trust to ensure its permanent protection.

As noted before, you also can donate your property to us even if we determine that your land is not suitable as a permanent wildlife sanctuary. Provisions can be made in your will or trust for its eventual sale by us, with the proceeds from this sale used to support our overall stewardship responsibilities or used to acquire more suitable sanctuary land, depending on your wishes.

There are several types of gifts that can be included in your will.

  • A Specific Gift simply gives the Trust title of your property after your death.The same approach can apply to any other identified asset.
  • A Contingent Gift takes effect only in the event that some other bequest fails for some reason. (Example: You leave your entire estate to the Trust in the event your spouse or partner fails to survive you.)
  • A Residuary Gift could include your property after. (Example: You have a 300-acre farm. Your will or trusts provides for the disposition of estate to other family, friends or organizations but the so-called residue of your estate is left to the Trust. Because the farm was not transferred to another beneficiary, the Trust receives the 300-acre farm.)

Please Note: Any reference to the Trust in your will should use our full corporate name and incorporation location: "The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, a nonprofit corporation, incorporated in the District of Columbia."

How You and Your Estate Benefit:

  • Permanent protection of your sanctuary land if that is our agreement
  • State inheritance tax savings and, if the value of your estate is more than the current exclusion, federal estate tax savings

Stewardship Support for Gifts of Land and Conservation Easements

The Trust also requests stewardship support, since permanent protection of sanctuary lands imposes a substantial and permanent financial obligation. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit land trust, and fulfillment of this obligation depends on our always having, and receiving from our donors, adequate stewardship funding. While we seek financial support from those who agree with our mission, we also ask donors of sanctuaries to financially assist this stewardship undertaking.

There are many ways to arrange for stewardship support, immediately or in the future, and we will work with you to find a way that best meets your personal situation. For example, providing financial support for our permanent stewardship responsibilities now may be burdensome. If so, you might consider providing this support through a bequest of funds in your will or trust.

As another example, if you’ve given land to the Trust while retaining a life estate on it and have not provided for stewardship, we might agree that the Trust will sell after your death.

If a portion of your property is suitable for protection as a sanctuary but a home on it is not, we may arrange to either lease the home to someone who would agree to assist us with stewardship, maintenance, and monitoring, or sell the home (we would keep the remaining land or, depending on our agreement with you, retain a conservation easement) and use the proceeds from this sale to support our protection of the protected sanctuary or our overall stewardship responsibilities. Alternatively, again with your agreement, we might use some or all of the proceeds to acquire additional sanctuary land.

Loon Close-up

Common loons are not all that common. Many states list them as either "threatened" or a "species of special concern."


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