Conserving Land • Protecting Resources
Since 1987

As of January 1, 2024, the Rensselaer Land Trust has merged with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance. For all questions regarding donations, events, land, or other matters, please visit or call 518-712-9211. For questions about the merger, use extension 101 to speak with Jim Bonesteel. You can expect a new name and logo for our merged organization by Spring / Summer 2024 and a new website by the end of the year!

Fee Simple Acquisition. Rensselaer Land Trust owns the land.

Conservation Easement. Landowner owns the land and Rensselaer Land Trust holds some of the property rights. Please see the section entitled Questions and Answers on Conservation Easements.

Deed Restriction. Landowner owns the land with some restrictions on it. Please see the section entitled Questions and Answers on Conservation Easements.

Life Estate. Landowner retains a life estate and donates a remainder interest to Rensselaer Land Trust. You, the landowner, retain what is called a life estate meaning that you have the right to live on the property and you retain responsibility for the taxes, upkeep, insurance, maintenance—everything, just as you always have. When you die, the property transfers automatically to the Land Trust, which then owns it outright.

How does this work? You donate the remainder interest while you are alive and keep the right to use the property during your lifetime.

Why do this?

  1. With a life estate you can support your favorite charity or nonprofit organization
  2. You can use an income tax deduction for the value of the remainder interest
  3. Your property will not be taxed as part of your estate (so long as the life estate was set in place for at least 3 years)
  4. You get to enjoy your property for the rest of your life knowing that it will support a worthy cause in the future
  5. If you want to control how your property is to be used after your death, you can combine a life estate with a conservation easement or deed restriction. This works well for the farmer who wants to ensure that the land will be kept as agricultural and not developed for residences or farmettes and who does not have a child or relative that wants to take over the business. If the property is under an easement, it is always bound by those terms, no matter who owns it.

Charitable Remainder Trust. Here’s how this works: You create a charitable remainder trust, then donate appreciated property (like your farm or working forest lands) to the trust. The Trustee of the trust sells some of the assets in the trust and invests the proceeds and pays you an annual return. You can choose the rate of return and you get an income tax deduction for the donated asset. The trust ends upon your death or after a term of years that you can select and the assets left in the trust go to a designated charity or not‐for‐profit. If you need to “replace” some of the value of the assets that were donated to the trust, you can purchase life insurance from the proceeds you are getting from the trust. With this method you can avoid capital gains tax on the appreciated assets, get an income tax deduction for the value of the gift, and remove the assets from your estate, thereby potentially saving you estate taxes and make a contribution to a charity or not‐for‐profit that you want to support. This works well for people who need income for retirement and do not have a family member who wants the property. If the asset is land, and you put the property under a conservation easement before donating it to a charitable remainder trust, then the conservation values and character of the property are also protected.