Appendix G: Glossary

actuarial tables – life expectancy information based on statistics.

adjusted gross income (AGI) – an individual taxpayer’s income after deducting exempt income and certain allowed reductions. Itemized deductions, the standard deduction or personal exemptions further reduce AGI, resulting in “taxable income.”

annuity – a fixed annual payment based on an investment and the duration of payments.

appraisal – the estimated value of property as determined by an appraiser, based on sales of comparable property or income potential.

assessment – municipal valuation of property for tax purposes.

bargain sale – sale of property or easement to a tax-exempt organization for less than the fair market value.

baseline data – information and documentation showing the condition of land at the time an easement gift is made.

basis – the cost of property when acquired (or value when inherited), plus the cost of certain permanent improvements.

beneficiary – the person designated to receive the proceeds from a will, trust, or insurance policy.

benefited parcel – land that receives benefits from restrictions placed on adjoining or nearby property.

bequest – a gift by will of money or personal property.

building envelope (or homestead area) – a designated portion of a larger property, identified in a conservation easement or plan, within which future construction is permitted. The building envelope or homestead area can be included within the terms of an easement or can be left out – exempt from the easement’s terms.

capital gains – profit from the sale of property in excess of the basis.

charitable gift (also charitable donation, charitable contribution) – a gift to a tax-exempt entity that meets certain IRS standards.

charitable gift annuity – a contract by which a donor sells his property to a charity in return for regular annuity payments to one or two beneficiaries for life.

charitable remainder trust – a trust fund invested to provide lifetime income to the donor and beneficiaries and a gift of the remaining principal to charity upon its expiration.

conservation buyer – an individual or group of individuals who work in partnership with a land trust to acquire land for permanent protection (either holding that land privately with conservation restrictions or transferring it to a land trust or government agency).

conservation easement – a legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization or agency, that permanently limits uses of the property to protect its significant natural features.

conservation investor – an individual or group of individuals who help to fund the acquisition of conservation land, without becoming long-term owners.

conservation plan – a document outlining the goals, methods and strategy for preserving a property.

conservation remainder – a right of deferred or future ownership of land subject to perpetual conservation restrictions that is delayed until after the death of the original owner or other named “life tenants.”

covenant (or restriction) – a written commitment contained in a contract, lease, deed, or other form of agreement.

current use classification – a property tax category that recognizes the economic benefits of working landscapes and open space areas, and grants them a reduced tax rate.

deed restriction – restrictive covenants, placed within a deed, that guide future uses of the property.

devise – (v) to give or transmit real estate by will; (n) a gift of real estate by will.

donee – one who receives a donation.

easement holder – a nonprofit organization or government agency that assumes long-term responsibility for monitoring a conservation easement and enforcing its terms.

estate tax – a tax imposed on assets transferred from a deceased person to his or her heirs.

executor (or personal representative) – a person named to carry out the provisions of a will.

fair market value – the price that a willing buyer would pay a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both being fully informed about relevant facts.

fee (fee interest, fee-simple interest) – technically, all the legal rights in property; informally, ownership of land. “Less than fee interest” entails holding fewer rights, such as a lease, option, easement, mortgage, or life interest.

forever wild – a term that describes restrictions on land intended to keep the natural resources substantially unaltered. The Open Space Tax Law defines forever wild as allowing only minor changes to prevent the spread of fire and plant disease and to accommodate low-impact outdoor recreation, nature observation and study, and pursuits such as hunting, fishing and harvesting shellfish.

highest and best use – the most profitable likely and legal use to which a parcel of land is likely to be put (a determination made in calculating value).

just value – the required property tax assessment standard, based on the likely sale price of a property, reduced by the average percent below full fair market value at which the town assesses property (the state-determined “town assessment ratio”).

land trust – a publicly supported nonprofit organization that helps landowners voluntarily conserve their properties.

land use planner – a professional offering conservation and development planning services.

life tenants – persons with the legal right to possess real estate only for the remainder of their lifetimes.

management agreement – a written contract, generally between a landowner and organization or agency, committing one or both parties to certain responsibilities in caring for a property.

mutual covenants – written commitments regarding land use contained in a deed or other form of agreement and exchanged among neighboring landowners.

open space – an undeveloped tract of land that provides scenic, ecological and/or recreational values. Also, a current use property tax classification.

option (to purchase) – a time-limited right to acquire a property at a set price.

partial interest – a deeded undivided percent in the ownership of land.

post-mortem election – a tax law provision that allows heirs to make a charitable donation of certain rights in land that they inherit, subject to Internal Revenue Code restrictions.

public benefit(s) – the values (scenic, recreational, ecological, cultural, historic or spiritual) that people derive from a protected property.

qualified appraiser – an IRS term for an appraiser who does appraisals for charitable deductions and who has not been listed as disqualified by the IRS.

real property (real estate or realty) – land and the buildings or other permanent improvements associated with it.

Register of Critical Areas – a State list documenting sites of significance to Maine’s natural heritage whose landowners have agreed to pursue voluntary land conservation.

remainder interest – a “future interest” in property that is realized only after termination of a prior interest; for example, when an organization receives deed to a property subject to a “reserved life estate,” the organization holds a remainder interest. Possession of the property will not occur until the end of a specified term of years or at the life tenant’s death.

reserved life estate – a right retained as part of a transfer of land where the owner or other individuals possess the property during their lifetime.

right of first refusal – a binding commitment by a landowner not to sell property without first offering it to a specified individual or organization at the same terms the owner would be willing to accept from another purchaser (usually excluding family members).

stewardship – long-term responsibility for the care and management of land or conservation easements.

title – ownership of land, usually documented at the County Registry of Deeds.

trustee – a person responsible for the proper and faithful administration of a fund or asset solely for the benefit of identified beneficiaries.

undivided interest – partial ownership of an entire undivided property (as opposed to ownership of a part of the land), owned jointly by two or more other parties.