J. Kelly Kennedy, Attorney/CPA, PLLC

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Your vacation getaway may not be so special to your kids

Perhaps the locals called you a snowbird during the months you stayed in your Florida vacation home, but you didn't mind. You likely sacrificed and saved for the opportunity to purchase that vacation home. Maybe you and your spouse spent more and more time there as you grew older and retired.

Some of your fondest memories may be of the vacations spent with your children, and then, perhaps your grandchildren as your family grew. Now you are considering clarifying your final wishes, and you want to leave the vacation home to your children to enjoy as much as you did.

Not so fast!

Although the house may have been a dream come true for you and your spouse, it may not be the same for your children. Even if they loved the vacations spent together in Florida, they may feel differently if they owned the property.

Your intentions may be good, but before you simply leave the house in your will for the children to share equally, you may wish to consider some possible drawbacks:

  • Your children may not want to travel to Florida for every vacation. Owning the house may obligate them to do so.
  • Some or all of your children may not be able or willing to spend the money it will require to maintain the property, pay the taxes and ensure its security when no one is using it.
  • Your children may disagree on the appropriate use of the property or the best course of action if an emergency repair arises.
  • Liquid assets may be more appreciated and helpful to some of your children.

On the other hand, your children may approve of the house being placed in a trust rather than bequeathed in a will. An appointed trustee would make those difficult decisions about the maintenance of the property, and your children would benefit from the use or rental of the home.

Sorting out your choices

Florida is the place you fell in love with, and you want to share that love with your children. Before you make your decision, you may want to have a frank discussion with your children to see what their feelings are about the house. Since probate does not cross state lines, your children may appreciate if you spare them the burden of probate in each of the states where you own property.

To make the transition to your heirs as smooth as possible and to assist you in all aspects of your estate planning, an attorney will be invaluable. Since your family situation is unique, you will certainly want to know the best options available for your circumstances. Even more than the gift of a vacation home, having your estate plan in order is one of the most generous gifts parents can leave their children.

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