Will Your Cabin Stay in the Family?

You may not live there all year ‘round, but your family cabin or lake house has probably become a home away from home. Full of cherished family memories, it has unique value worth above and beyond that of the land it is built on. The vast majority of cabin owners look to pass on the same opportunities for togetherness and joy to the next generation–but it doesn’t always go as they had planned.

The most important first step in deciding how to leave behind your cabin is communication. Discuss with your family what they envision for it in the future and be sure to cover the three most important points:

  1. Who will visit, when?
  2. Who will maintain the property?
  3. Who will pay for expenses, mortgage costs, taxes, etc.?

By fleshing out everyone’s expectations on the matter and working out a system, you lay the groundwork for avoiding conflict in the future.

Plus, it may simply be that your heirs have no interest in it–this can be difficult to accept given all the memories it holds for you, so discussing this early on can avoid a lot of hurt feelings in the future.

Once you have established how it will be used, it is time to set up the legal framework that will ensure the system you worked out is carried through. The bequests in a will alone do not have the ability, legally, to do this properly. Instead, a Cabin Trust, Cabin LLC, or Co-Ownership Agreement will allow you a vast toolset to build your cabin’s future to your exact specifications.

For example, a these tools can help your loved ones in a number of ways:

  • A family member can be recognized for work they put into keeping the spot in good repair.
  • Costs can be divvied up as you wish–either equally or proportionate to the amount each person spends at the cabin each year.
  • A scheduling system can be set in place ahead of time to avoid conflict over time spent at the cabin – especially for holidays and other high demand times.
  • Housekeeping rules can be established to ensure that all cabin users agree to a condition the cabin must be left in, or even just how to decorate!
  • If a family member wishes to sell their piece, the others can be given first opportunity to buy it up.
  • You can leave money behind, specifically allocated for all the cabin’s expenses.
  • A secondary inheritance plan can be in place in the event that one of the original inheritors passes away.

If you have a cabin, lake home, or other property that you are looking to pass on to the next generation and would like the advice of a skilled estate planning attorney, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment. Feel free to call us at 612-206-3701 or leave me a message via our contact form.

If you are a Twin Cities resident, you also have the unique opportunity to hear Kimberly speak on this topic at this year’s Lake Home and Cabin Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center from February 6-8. Kimberly will be presenting the top ten things you can do to keep your family from fighting over the cabin in the future.

Image Courtesy of Gualberto107 | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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