SERVICES - Stewardship - Donate to Legacy Fund
Why is a Legacy Fund needed?
When the Wyoming Land Trust (WLT) receives a gift of a conservation easement, it accepts the responsibility to monitor and enforce that conservation easement forever. Protection of a property only begins with the recording of a conservation easement. The perpetual costs associated with monitoring easement are a significant and necessary liability to WLT. It is WLT’s duty to take this responsibility seriously.
How does the fund work?
The Legacy Fund is intended to be a quasi-endowment. The corpus is held in reserve to be used only in legal defense of our conservation easements. Our hope is that we will only need to use the corpus very rarely. Careful monitoring and good landowner relations are proven to reduce the risk of lawsuits in the future.
How are the funds raised?
WLT strongly encourages new easement donors to contribute to our Legacy Fund. WLT suggests a gift of sufficient size to help offset the costs associated with monitoring and enforcing the donated easement. In addition, WLT solicits gifts specifically for our Legacy Fund on occasion from individuals and foundations.
How are Legacy gift requests calculated?
WLT calculates its Legacy gift requests based on its actual stewardship costs. WLT updates these costs annually to accurately reflect its expenses. WLT checks these costs against estimates of the amount of time a well-established land trust has spent monitoring over 100 conservation easements over the past 20 years.
WLT manages its Legacy Fund to permanently endow annual stewardship costs. The endowment must earn enough interest each year to cover the annual costs and to supplement the fund to keep up with inflation. WLT estimates an average annual return of 4% to cover these annual costs, plus 3% for inflation. The endowment, calculated in this way, is the gift request made to a landowner who is considering the donation of a conservation easement.
Is a Legacy gift a requirement for the donation of a conservation easement?
Not necessarily. WLT understands that a Legacy gift is simply not possible for all our conservation easement donors. It is WLT’s responsibility to balance the benefits of accepting a conservation easement with the perpetual responsibilities we take on. To be fiscally responsible, we need to acknowledge the need for a Legacy gift. However, if the conservation easement donor is unable to make the gift, we will raise the funds from another source. We do not want the gift request to interfere with meaningful conservation, and WLT is willing to raise sufficient funds to cover the stewardship costs if necessary.
Several options exist for a landowner to provide for a Legacy gift at a later date, including a bequest in will, a transfer fee agreement so that if the property is ever sold, a certain percentage or dollar amount goes to WLT, naming WLT as beneficiary of a life insurance policy or retirement account, and pledging to make several gifts over time.