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In 2000 Elizabeth Nicoll, a loyal supporter of the Vermont Land Trust, bequeathed her Grand Isle property to us with a remainder interest, which allowed her to live on the property until her death in 2009.
Our staff members enjoyed many conversations with Elizabeth about her philanthropic goals and her wishes for her land. In 2010, we sold the conserved property.
Like all planned gifts to VLT, the assets became part of our operating reserve. This reserve is held aside from our annual budget and is drawn upon in lean years, helping to ensure our long-term stability.
Perhaps you choose to live in Vermont or spend time here because the land inspires you. Maybe you feel connected to the land through family memories, the local farm where you buy food, a hiking trail, or the view of uninterrupted forest from your favorite mountain peak.
As you think about the past and ponder your vision for the future, you may be considering how you can make a significant difference in conserving what makes Vermont so special—its land and rural heritage.
While planned gifts take many forms, they are the result of careful planning and an intention to make a lasting gift. These could include bequests made in a will, naming VLT as a life insurance beneficiary, or using tax-wise giving options such as charitable gift annuities or remainder trusts.
Conservation supporters who have made planned gifts have had an extraordinary impact on our work. Thanks to early legacy gifts, we were able to become a secure, established land trust, better equipped to monitor perpetual easements. Proceeds from planned gifts fund our endowment, ensuring our long term success and stability.
One such pivotal gift was the donation of Spring Brook Farm in Reading, Vermont. In 1983, John and Helen Mayer, the owners of the farm, decided to bequeath their land to VLT. As part of their charitable gift, they reserved a remainder interest in the land, which allowed them to continue to live on the farm. Although it was controversial at the time, it has turned into one of our favorite success stories.
At John and Helen’s passing, VLT took ownership of the farm and conserved it. In 1992, we sold the farm to a family that envisioned founding a charitable program for children. The sale of that farm gave VLT capital to implement our first strategic planning process and galvanized our future. And, the farm itself was put to good use by the Farms for City Kids Foundation, which gives children from urban areas an opportunity to experience farm work; the farm also produces the award-winning Spring Brook Tarentaise cheese.
Bequests: Bequests are one of the easiest ways to make a gift to the Vermont Land Trust. A bequest is a provision in your will or living trust. It directs money or other property go to specified individuals or organizations upon your death. Unlike some other planned giving options, bequests allow you to change your mind at any time. Property left to charities (such as VLT) is deductible from your taxable estate and may result in substantial tax savings. Bequests can also be used to endow your annual support for VLT, help us achieve a particular goal, or place a conservation easement on your land after your death. Read more.
Remainder Interest in Land: Donating to VLT a Remainder Interest in Land (thereby “reserving a life estate”) allows you to use and enjoy your property during your lifetime. It conveys immediate income tax benefits to you, while ensuring that the land is transferred automatically to VLT upon your death. Assuming there are conservation values associated with the property, VLT will place a conservation easement on it and then sell it, thereby providing us with long-term support. Read more.
Charitable Gift Annuities: Charitable Gift Annuities come under the category of “life income gifts”, providing you with an immediate income tax deduction and regular income payments for life. Most commonly funded with an appreciated asset that earns a low rate of return or, like land, costs you money to maintain, a gift annuity also provides VLT with long-term financial support. The basic mechanism of a gift annuity involves the transfer of assets to VLT, at which time we enter into a contract to pay you a fixed annuity for the rest of your life. Read more.
Charitable Remainder Trust: Another form of “life income gift”, a Charitable Remainder Trust can provide you with an immediate income tax deduction and increased annual income. You may transfer cash or appreciated property into this independent trust and direct income interest to one or more beneficiaries. A CRT functions much like a CGA except your gift is held and managed by the trustee of your choice. You and any other beneficiaries you designate receive the interest income and upon your death, the remaining assets are donated to the charities of your choice. Read more.
Charitable Lead Trust: A Charitable Lead Trust may meet your needs if you have a large taxable estate and wish to pass on a greater inheritance to your children and grandchildren, while also providing VLT with immediate and sustained support. Typically, a charitable lead trust pays a specified income to VLT for either a fixed term of years or for your lifetime while your hears receive the balance of the trust at the time of your death. Read more.
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