Legacy Planning for Family Forest Landowners
Why Plan for Your Land?
Your land is part of your legacy. As a good steward of your land, it is important to plan what will happen to your land after you are gone. In fact, planning for your land may be the most important action you can take as a landowner—for the benefit of your family, your community, the land itself, and your personal goals. Who will own your land, and how will it be used? What will your legacy be?
An estate is the total of all your assets, including your land, house, bank accounts, and any stocks and bonds. An estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed in a way that will meet the financial and personal needs of you and your heirs.
Land is not like other assets: it may have significant personal value not typically associated with other assets, such as stocks and bonds. When dividing assets among family members, it can be challenging to account for their personal as well as financial needs.
The good news is that land is a flexible asset that lends itself to creative solutions for your goals and values whether or not you intend to keep it in the family.
This planning process takes time, and the earlier you start your planning process, the more options you will have for your land. Four great ways to start are:
- Defining your goals
- Deciding if you want to determine the future ownership of the land
- Deciding if you want to determine the future use of the land
- Reading more information about legacy planning
For Those Who Interact with Landowners:
NEW! “Their Land, Their Legacy” Guide & Workshops
This guide is based on research findings and extension experience and is meant to help all of those people who interact with landowners such as foresters, land trust leaders, municipal officials, peer leaders, and attorneys. If you are someone in one of these roles, you can help inform the decisions landowners are making about their land’s future ownership and use. This guide is also the basis for our “train-the-trainers” workshops, which can be arranged for your community by emailing Professor Jessica Leahy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Request a Copy of “Their Land, Their Legacy” Guide:
Please enter your email address below to receive a copy of the “Their Land, Their Legacy” guide. We are requesting that all people provide a valid address so that we can email you a short survey in 6 months as a part of our program evaluation.
Text by: Paul Catanzaro, UMass-Amherst & Jessica Leahy, UMaine