Planned Giving

Lake Champlain

Join the dedicated individuals and families who have taken steps to preserve New York’s Champlain Valley with a planned gift to Champlain Area Trails (CATS).

By directing your legacy gift to CATS, you will help protect the Champlain Valley’s natural areas, farmland, clean water and scenic vistas, while making it possible for CATS to create more hiking and skiing trails that link communities, connect people with nature, and promote the economic vitality of the Champlain Valley.  Your gift may also allow you to take advantage of tax benefits that will protect your family’s inheritance.

Most traditional donations are in the form of cash, stock or securities, but other options are also available, as briefly described here.


A simple way to make a gift to Champlain Area Trails is through your will, naming CATS as a direct beneficiary of specific assets, of a portion of your estate, or of your residual estate after other payments. Bequests can serve as an enduring investment in the future of the Champlain Valley.

Specifically designed bequests may include:

Contingent Bequests

You direct that a specific amount or a percentage of your estate be paid to Champlain Area Trails only if your other beneficiaries do not survive you.

Residuary Bequests

You name Champlain Area Trails to receive all or a specified percentage of the assets remaining in your estate after other expenses and bequests have been paid.

Remainder Bequests

You direct that a sum be placed aside and invested to pay income to a surviving spouse or child. This can be for a period of years or for the lifetime of your beneficiary. Afterwards, the remaining principal goes to Champlain Area Trails.

Memorial Bequests

You establish a fund in the memory of a family member or friend. This can be accomplished simply by designating that the particular fund to be established be named in memory of the person or persons to be honored.

Please consult your attorney for specific wording for any of these or other designations.

Gifts of Real Estate

A gift of real estate can be very tax-friendly. Your residence, vacation home, farm or vacant lot may have appreciated in value through the years, resulting in a sizable capital gains tax when sold. By leaving your property to Champlain Area Trails through planned giving, your estate could instead receive a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the property.

A conservation easement or retained life estate gift may be similarly used to reduce your estate’s value. An independent appraisal of your property is required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you wish to claim a deduction. If you are considering a piece of land to be preserved in its natural state or bequeathed in a will, we ask that you notify us in advance so that we may determine whether we will be able to manage the bequest in a manner consistent with your wishes.

Retirement or Life Insurance Plans

You can name Champlain Area Trails as a primary or secondary beneficiary of your Individual Retirement Plan (IRA), Keogh plan, 401(k), 403(b), other qualified pension or insurance plans. The proceeds of these plans are distributed outside of probate and are entirely free from federal estate tax.

Gifts of Personal Property

This can be another creative method to feel positive about your investment in protecting the Champlain Valley.  Antiques, artwork and other valuables may be retained by Champlain Area Trails or sold with the proceeds put towards land conservation projects, trails, outdoor education programs, or operations. Please note that for all properties over $5,000, you are required to provide the IRS with an appraisal of the property if you want to use the deduction on your federal income tax returns.


If your will is already completed, one option that may not require a change to your documents but will reaffirm the other terms of your will, is to write a codicil to your will. (A codicil is a document that modifies, deletes, or adds to the content of an existing will.)  Your legal advisor will need to approve the document for you.

Contact Us

Our executive director, Chris Maron, would be pleased to sit down with you one-on-one and discuss how this information relates to your individual and family circumstances.

Please call Chris at 518-962-2287 or email to receive more information about any of the policies or options listed above, to set up a time to meet or discuss your plans over the phone.

Of course, you are also always welcome to stop in our office at any time at 6482 Main Street, Westport, NY.

Saving Land | Making Trails