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Estate planning for your second home

As you wrap up another summer of memories at the family cottage, you may be thinking about whether the next generation of your family will keep up your tradition of summer weekends in your special spot.

Will the centerpiece of your estate be your beloved lakeshore cottage? Or is it time to say goodbye? Here are some things to consider before including it in your estate plan.

Do your heirs really want it?

This is probably the most important consideration of all, and it warrants a serious conversation with your child or children. You'll want to make sure it's as important to them as you think it is before making it part of their inheritance. Encourage your children to be frank with you, and remember that there are many reasons why they might not be as excited about second home ownership as you are. This is especially true if they live farther away - or are thinking about moving - or worry about the costs and trade-offs involved in maintaining the home.

If you decide not to include the home in your estate, you'll have to decide when and how to sell it. While this process may be difficult and emotional, it will make things easier for you and your children down the line.

What about maintenance?

This can affect the answer to the first question. Your kids might love the cottage but worry about being able to pay for upkeep. In this case, you might consider including money designated for maintenance costs in your estate plan.

Who owns it?

If you have multiple children, ownership can be more complicated, and you might want to consider designating a trustee to manage the house, rather than naming your children as joint owners.

Your estate attorney can help you work through these and other considerations. Regardless of the outcome, discussing the future of your second home with your children can help everyone relax and enjoy these weekend getaways, whether they continue for just a few more years or for generations to come.

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