Robert Frost’s Mending Wall ends “Good fences make good neighbors.” It is also true, but less poetic, that good neighbors maintain their property in a safe manner to prevent hazards on their land from harming neighbors.
Sadly, for a Colorado man, that is not the way the federal government views its duty to its neighbors, which is why late last month Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Michael Whited of Boulder County demanding the government fix the mess it made on his land.
In 1985, Michael Whited moved from Alabama to Colorado. A decade later, he bought a modest home in idyllic Fourmile Canyon where he and his wife have lived ever since. This area was mined from the mid-1800s into the early 1900s. Their next-door neighbor is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), on whose property stood a dated stone and concrete mining shed, which was built into the hillside, less than six feet from the Whited’s house.
In 2011, Mr. Whited, a mechanical engineer, knew the shed posed a hazard to him and his property, so he asked the BLM to remove it or to take other action to address the danger. The BLM gave him the runaround. In 2016, as he feared, the shed collapsed, sent concrete and boulders onto the walkway by his house, and uprooted trees driving them into his electrical panel. The BLM denied responsibility, asserted that it did not own the shed, argued that any cleanup was up to him, and warned him to stay off its land!
I wish I could say this is rare and the federal government is a good neighbor, but such things happen often and it is the world’s worst neighbor.
Thank you for supporting MSLFs efforts to hold the government liable.
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Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF) is a nonprofit, public interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government and free enterprise system. It is an Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) entity incorporated in the State of Colorado. Tax ID# 84-0736725
A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Mountain States Legal Foundation a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.
an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan
I [name], of [city, state, ZIP] give, devise and bequeath to Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), (tax identification number 84-0736725) 2596 South Lewis Way, Lakewood, Colorado 80227, [written dollar amount or percentage of the estate or description of the property] to continue its mission to protect and preserve individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government and economic freedom.
able to be changed or cancelled
A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.
cannot be changed or cancelled
tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient
the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation
the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase
the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on
The person receiving the gift annuity payments.
the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid
a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will
the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will
A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to MSLF or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.
An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.
Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.
Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.
Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.
A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.
You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.
You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSLF as a lump sum.
You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to MSLF as a lump sum.
A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.
A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and MSLF where you agree to make a gift to MSLF and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.