Estate planning considerations when you own land in California

When your assets include significant acreage, careful estate planning can help preserve your land holdings for the next generation. Establishing the right arrangement for your land can limit the tax burden for your heirs and ensure they carry out your wishes. 

Take these land considerations into account when creating your legal estate plan in California. 

Do you farm on your land? 

A family farm often includes significant land assets. However, it also represents a commitment that may not be right for your children and grandchildren. Consider creating an estate plan that keeps the land with those who will actually run the farm whenever possible. You may want to balance this arrangement by leaving nonland assets to heirs who will not take over farm operations. 

Are you concerned about privacy? 

Real estate transactions become part of the public record. If you prefer privacy when it comes to your estate assets, creating a land trust can help you achieve this objective. With this arrangement, you transfer your land holdings to the trust and assign a trustee, who must legally manage the land according to your wishes. A land trust can maintain your family’s privacy while potentially shielding assets from creditors and claims. 

Do you have updated land valuation? 

Many factors will affect the value of your land, so you should call in a professional if you do not have an appraisal from the past year or two. Depending on the makeup of your acreage, you may want to consult a professional forester. This step is especially important if you have a unique spread with few comparable properties in the area. 

Do you have a conservation plan? 

If you want to pass down your property while protecting the land from development, consider a conservation easement. With this type of legal agreement, you can donate part of the property to a conservation organization that will steward the land in accordance with your wishes and environmental guidelines for the area. 

Extensive conversations with your partner and your family members will be invaluable as you navigate the estate planning process with sizeable land assets.