Do You Really Want to Leave That Legacy Property to Your Children?
Ah, the family lake house—such an enjoyable place. Fond memories, summer evenings, fish fries: The photos on the wall tell such a warm and pleasant story. But will that story continue after you are gone?
Who gets to use it, and when? Why does Susie get to use it more than Joanie? And if there are multiple properties, do the kids take dibs on one property versus another? And what happens when life circumstance rears its ugly head. For instance, one family, because of parenting obligations, can’t find the time to travel to Colorado to use the condo, so another family starts taking that family’s weeks.
Pretty soon, there’s fighting and discord, which all prompts the question: Is it worth it? Or would it be better just to sell the house and let each family member buy their own vacation home?
Or are there ways to mediate the dispute? Typically, the way to address these issues is through a family governance council. (More about this topic in a later blog). But ultimately, the key to resolving these issues is to define the rules and rights around use of family vacation properties. Along with these rules should be a family code of conduct that describes desired behavior.
Setting a structure in place can avoid the unnecessary battle of litigating a property split while preserving relationships for years to come.