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Donation Process

Evaluation of Your Historic Property

Historic New England seeks preservation easements on the wide range of domestic structures in New England, including but not limited to buildings listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and those located within national, state or local historic districts. Historic New England evaluates each offer of a preservation easement based on its own merits, regardless of the property's other designations or protections. Historic New England's determination regarding the acceptance of a preservation easement is made on an individual basis and closely follows the criteria used for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. 

The Donation Process

This timeline is a general reference only. Depending on the donor's circumstances, the donation process can take several months to over a year to complete. For complex property interests, and for owners seeking listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the process requires a minimum of twelve months. The following text profiles the typical process utilized with donated easements. Depending upon property and the state in which it is located, additional steps within the donation process may be involved. 

  1. Application and initial consultation. Following an initial telephone inquiry or written correspondence, a prospective donor is asked to complete and return a Preservation Easement Program Application (PDF), providing background information on the historic property. Once the application is received, program staff will visit the property to evaluate significant features and discuss the donor's preservation goals. There is no fee for this initial visit.
  2. Preservation Easement Program staff compile architectural and historical background information about a prospective property, including a preliminary title search.
  3. Staff submit a recommendation to Historic New England’s Preservation Easement Committee, which then votes to enter into negotiations with an owner to create a preservation easement on the property. 
  4. Once a property is approved for negotiations by the Preservation Easement Committee and the property owner decides to proceed, a $500 non-refundable application fee is required.
  5. Negotiations begin between Historic New England and donor, including initial legal review and drafting of the preservation easement by the Preservation Easement Program staff.
  6. Staff present a final recommendation to Historic New England’s Preservation Easement Committee. The committee will then vote to recommend acceptance of the easement donation by the Board of Trustees. 
  7. Staff coordinate professional photography, develop floor plans, site plans and other supporting documentation recorded as legal exhibits with the preservation easement.
  8. Final revision of legal documents by Historic New England for review by donor and the donor's attorney/advisors.
  9. Historic New England’s Board of Trustees vote to accept the donation of the preservation easement as negotiated between Historic New England and the donor. 
  10. The Preservation Easement Agreement and Contribution Agreement are executed (signed) by Historic New England and donor.
  11. These legal documents are then recorded in the local Land Records.
  12. Historic New England's ongoing administration and enforcement begins upon recording of the legal documents.

Throughout the process, prospective donors are encouraged to consult with their attorneys or advisors as well as with Historic New England staff. In the course of preparing various reports and pertinent legal documents, Historic New England may seek the assistance of the donor's or their advisors.

Potential Tax Advantages of Donations

Preserving historic properties through the voluntary donation of preservation easement to Historic New England, a qualified charitable organization, provides a demonstrable public benefit by protecting significant components of our built and natural environment for generations to come. The federal government has recognized the importance of these donations by establishing advantageous income tax incentives which are available to taxpaying donors who meet specific federal statutory requirements. These allow a qualified donor to take a charitable contribution deduction for the appraised value of the legally binding preservation easement placed in perpetuity on an historic property; however, to qualify, the property must either be (1) listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places or (2) certified as contributing to the significance of a designated historic district. Donors wishing to seek a federal tax deduction for the donation of a preservation easement to protect a National Register of Historic Places listed historic structure are advised to obtain professional advice on satisfying the appraisal requirements of the Internal Revenue Code. The donation of a preservation easement may also give rise to favorable property, estate and other tax treatment. Each prospective donor should consult with qualified professional advisors to determine the tax and legal consequences of the donation of a preservation easement to Historic New England.

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Donation Process