Entrusted to the Future
estate still retains control of the property.
"I decided recently to turn the property over to the Department so that public can benefit from using it," Bose said. "I am pleased that the Department let me be part of the planning team that developed the management plan for the area."
Choosing the Best Way to Donate
Those interested in donating land to the Department can choose from a variety of methods. In some cases, grantors may make special requests to suit their personal needs. Donors have input into naming the donated tract, which they often name after themselves or their family. Always, an appropriate sign is erected. Depending on the capabilities of the land, it may be open to public use.
Following are four general methods of donating land:
- * Warranty Deed - Land can be donated at any time simply by deeding it over to the Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri. This method allows immediate tax benefits and provides the opportunity for donors to see the results of their generosity.
- * Warranty Deed with Life Estate - Donors continue to operate the land in accordance with an agreement with the Department, which may include some restrictions. Grantors continue to pay the taxes, control public access and conduct other normal land-use activities during their lifetime or until they choose to relinquish the life estate and turn it over to the Department. This method provides some tax benefits and eliminates concern about future ownership of the land.
- * Beneficiary Deed - Grantors file a beneficiary deed with the county recorder and send a copy to the Department. The land automatically goes to the Department at the time of the grantor's death. The beneficiary deed eliminates the need for probate and provides tax benefits to the grantor's estate. Grantors can revoke the beneficiary deed at any time.
- * Will - Donors commonly convey property via their last will and testament. This method assures that the land will be deeded to the Conservation Department and provides tax benefits to the grantor's estate. It is always in the grantor's best interest to discuss the potential gift with the Conservation Department before the will is finalized. Wills are not revocable after death of the grantor.
- * Trusts - Donors increasingly use inter vivos, or lifetime created trusts, to govern disposition of their property. They create a trust, naming themselves as trustee over the trust assets and often naming spouses or children as successor trustees. The trust document dictates terms for the trustee to convey their property to the Department. Trusts can be either revocable or irrevocable. Prior consultation with the Department is recommended.
Hunting and fishing seasons on the Carrick W. Davidson and Robert G. Paris Conservation Area are reduced because of its relatively small size and close proximity to West Plains. However, the tract is very accessible to local schools for educational programs.
The size of the tract being donated is not important, especially if the land contains unique features or allows access to an existing resource. For example, Mr. and Mrs. Louis S. Sachs and Ms. Nancy R. Sachs recently donated a 15.3- acre tract in St. Charles County to the Department. The tract, which appraised at $1,030,000, allows people access to the August H. Busch Conservation area on the north side.
Conservation-minded people enjoy their land so much that they often want others to share their natural wealth.
"My wife, Gerhild, and I looked a long time in several states before we found this property," said Graham Brown of his 190 acres in Dent County. "We enjoyed watching the deer and turkey and seeing the flashes of colorful birds. Now we want the general public to enjoy it."
The Browns donated their property to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, which in turn donated it to the Conservation Department. Gerhild and Graham Brown are both deceased now, but their memorial will always be a reminder of their thoughtful generosity.
For information about the Department's donation program, write to Missouri Department of Conservation, Donation Program Administrator, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, or call 573/751-4115, ext. 3139.
For information about the foundation, write to Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 366, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0366, or call (573) 751-4115, ext. 3379.