Among people who own property, many will own only the land immediately surrounding their house, such as the yards in front and back. However, some people also have ownership of forests or grasslands; this type of land may have belonged to their family across generations.
If you have such land is part of your estate, you need to make sure that you’ve addressed important issues about its future. For example, the Texas A&M Forest Service recently announced a workshop dedicated to helping private landowners figure out the best long-term arrangements for their property, including what to do with it after they pass away. Among the topics discussed are eminent domain, land stewardship, and property inheritance.
Why are these important issues?
Under some circumstances, the government (or agents acting with government permission, such as a corporation) may move in to appropriate the property. Sometimes it’s for a particular purpose such as laying down a road or extracting fuel from the land; other times it may involve simply preserving the land solely under government management. What options do you have for your property, now and in the future, in response to eminent domain?
Planning for the future of your land also means specifying how you would like it to be taken care of after you pass away. For instance, it takes work and expertise to maintain a thriving forest land. What arrangements would you set down in estate planning documents for helping ensure the preservation of the land? Have you had the land evaluated, not only for its monetary value but also to better understand how it can be cared for?
Inheritance issues are of course also important, and may get quite complicated. For instance, do you own the land jointly with any family members? Are you planning to bestow it on multiple heirs? How would they divide it? You might also arrange to have your property become protected land or have the government manage certain aspects of the land for you through conservation easement.
When you contact us to discuss your estate planning needs, be sure to mention the concerns you have about forest lands or similar kinds of property. You need to make sure that you’re making the most advantageous arrangements, in keeping with your best interests and with preserving the land.