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Keeping Your Family’s Cabin as a Place of Happiness and Tranquility

Lucere Legal helps cabin owners with cabin estate planning
Categories: Cabin Planning

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.

To learn more about this, go to our cabin planning website, and take the time to work through The Minnesota Cabin Planning Guide and Workbook.

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 us a message via our contact form.

Image Courtesy of Gualberto107 | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Do you have a cabin?

The first generation that buys a cabin enjoys it to the fullest and it’s a magical place where happy memories are made and families go for some much needed respite. Unfortunately, without thoughtful planning, the chances of the cabin staying a place of happiness and tranquility into successive generations is very, very slim.

If you haven’t done the planning in advance and made it legally binding, the family members (and their ex-spouses and new spouses) will have to work every detail out for themselves. If they can’t, what is likely to happen is a lawsuit called an action for partition that forces everyone to sell their interest. This lawsuit is expensive, and the costs of litigation will come out of the proceeds of the sale of the cabin, so to add insult to injury to those who wanted to keep the cabin but couldn’t afford to buy the others out, they are footing part of the legal bills in the lawsuit against them. Ouch!

It’s no wonder that family members stop speaking for years after the cabin conflict is “resolved.” You can’t make family relationships perfect, but you can take away much of the fuel for the family conflict fire. That’s what cabin planning does, and it has the nice side effect of giving you peace of mind now.

That’s why Kimberly wrote The Minnesota Cabin Planning Guide and Workbook, and you can get a free electronic copy of her book on our cabin planning website, or you can find it in many county libraries in Minnesota, or you can get it on amazon.com.

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