Legacy Planning Stories: How Landowners "Like Me" Are Ensuring the Future of their Land

young boy and girl walking

A collection of stories about fellow landowners like you, the legacies they are creating, and how they are planning for the future of their land.

Many current woodlot owners—individuals, families, partners, and more—work to ensure that their woods are cared for well. Many have spent years investing time, money, and sweat, making decisions, and leaving their mark on the land. Yet the question of “What happens after me?” looms. How can good forest stewards ensure that, in the future, their property will be owned and managed as they intended?

Legacy planning, also called succession planning, helps landowners make well-informed decisions about how best to ensure continued stewardship of their woodlands through intergenerational transfer, land protection strategies, or other tools. It encompasses defining and communicating future intentions, as well as legal estate planning actions. Legacy planning can help ensure private forestland will not be converted to non‐forest uses, that fiber supply and nontimber forest benefits remain available, and the forest will go on to benefit future generations. Planning aids the continued stewardship of an individual’s property beyond their tenure and their beneficiaries’ tenure.

Legacy planning isn't easy or fast. It involves in-depth communication with heirs (if that is the way the landowner chooses to go), consultation with legal, financial, and conservation experts, a decent outlay of costs to hire the correct resource professionals and create the legal and financial tools necessary, as well as a great deal of time and commitment. Many landowners haven’t yet started on this journey, or have started and been discouraged by the effort it takes. But many other landowners have already tried. This collection of stories is intended for landowners (and resource professionals) to see how others “like me” chose to make decisions and implement tools that will ensure their stewardship of the land continues for many generations into the future.

What will happen to your land after you are gone?  As you read these stories in which landowners like you recount their journeys and the decisions they’ve faced in forming a plan for the future of their land, we hope you are inspired to begin your legacy planning process. You’ll find examples of how forest owners have tackled issues of fairness, or disinterested heirs, which can help those facing similar challenges make sense of their own situations and stay motivated to keep working toward completing their plan. In the stories, landowners share about establishing conservation easements, trusts, and limited liability companies, donating land, and having meaningful conversations with family. We believe you will benefit reading these stories from people like you, who have experienced similar situations, and that what you learn will help inform your own legacy planning decisions.

Download the resource for the complete booklet and a printable version.