How Long Does My Access Easement Last?


Author: Attorney Peter J. Curran


The law has recently changed!  Prior to March 11, 2022, Wisconsin law required that any access easement be re-recorded every 40 years.  If those easements were not re-recorded, they would become unenforceable.

Because many access easements have existed for longer than 40 years and because the easements themselves almost never set forth this 40 year re-recording requirement, most landowners had no idea that the access rights they had enjoyed for decades might be extinguished without any notice.

The new law provides that access easements which were recorded on or after January 1, 1960 run in perpetuity unless otherwise provided in the easement document.  There is no longer any re-recording requirement.

Access easements that were recorded before January 1, 1960 also run in perpetuity, so long as either (1) a deed or other instrument is recorded after January 1, 1960 which references the easement, or (2) it is apparent from or can be proved from physical evidence of its use at such time when a person acquired the real estate subject to the easement.

The law of easements has been developing for over 120 years and it has many nuances which can be quite specific.  If you have any questions or issues with respect to any easement, it is recommended that you contact an attorney experienced with easements to ensure that your rights are protected.