Have you considered what will happen to your cottage after you die? C’mon, I know you have, we all do it at some point. It’s quite natural, there is no place like a camp or cottage to stir up intense feelings about what happens to it after we leave the earth.
Cottages tend to have more of a “hold” on us than our houses in the city. It’s probably because of the location, and because they are truly used as family places throughout our lives. Our kids often grow up around the cottage, and cottages hold stronger memories than any other property.
Needless to say, the passing down of a cottage can be a hotly contested and emotional life event. Families can be split during arguements about cottage succession. Then there are government rules that have to be considered. Cottages are not seen as principle residences and have diffferent rules when it comes to succession taxes, etc.
Camps and country properties can also become liabilities as we grow older and are unable to look after them. If you become limited in your mobility in your old age, just getting to the cottage can be difficult, not to mention doing any work to keep the place in good condition.
However, who doesn’t want to pass on their cottage as a legacy to their children so it can be kept in the family and enjoyed by generations to come? Traditionally, that is what happens to most camps and cottages, they stay in the families of the original owners.
Ensuring that happens can be a bit tricky and involves some careful estate planning.
Children of cottage owners generally want the cottage to come to them. Not a big deal if you are the parents of one child, but what if you have more than one? You have grandchildren? What if two or more siblings all express an interest in being the one to assume ownership of the cottage after your death?
What if you need the money from the sale of a cottage to keep you in your last years?
What if the upkeep to the cottage, repairs, taxes, maintenance etc, becomes to expensive when you are living as a pensioner?
These are all things that you and I would prefer not to consider. For one thing, creating a will is a peek at our own mortality, it’s the first time when you face the fact that someday you are going to die. That’s not something a lot of folks want to think about, but it is a necessary thing to consider regardless of your age.
There is no doubt that you want to avoid such troubles, particularly fighting between your children and family left after you pass away. It’s a much better feeling to die knowing that your affairs are in order and the cottage, camp or cabin is going to stay in the family, or not…..depending on you and your family’s wishes.
No matter how old you are, now is the time to take control of your cottage succession plan. If you are young, and are concerned that things might be different in 20 or 30 years, no matter, put a plan in place today, it can always be modified later on if circumstances or opinions change.
I recommend you pick up a copy of Saving the Family Cottage: A Guide to Succession Planning for Your Cottage, Cabin, Camp or Vacation Home by estate planning and succession attorney-experts Stuart Hollander and David S. Fry.
Written in plain english, this book, will help you pass on your vacation home and keep it in the family. The book has lots of real-world examples and stories of cottage “wars” gone awry. This will enlighten and inform you and help you prepare for the inevitable and avoid the negative things that can happen without proper estate planning.
So….what about you, have you thought about what will happen to your cottage after you are gone to the big cottage lake in the sky?
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