Keeping the Cottage in the Family
Cottage ownership and sharing it with family members is a very special opportunity and a big part of what makes Northern Michigan such a draw. As time passes, however, there comes a time when the owners of the cottage make the decision that they just can’t keep the cottage anymore. It is often the plan of these cottage owners to leave the cottage to their adult children. This plan is logical and, knowing how much the “kids” love each other and the cottage, it seems like a simple solution. Unfortunately, in many cases, problems arise down the road. This cottage, that may have been purchased for somewhere in the $50,000 range, could now be worth well over $1,000,000 and that value can add to the tension. The last thing parents want when they leave their cottage to their kids is to have the kids fighting over how the cottage is handled.
The issue of passing the cottage along to the next generation is a very personal decision and would best be taken seriously. One source of information on this topic is a book titled, Saving the Family Cottage, A Guide to Succession Planning, written by former Sutton’s Bay attorney, Stuart Hollander. Mr. Hollander specialized in cottage law before his untimely death in September, 2007. There are many excerpts from his book on the web site www.cottagelaw.com. While it is unlikely that any one source of information will meet the needs of everyone, this book might be a good starting point for anyone beginning to think about how to keep their cottage in the family and their family members on good terms with each other into the future.
All readers should be aware that the information in this article is meant only to encourage further research on the part of cottage owners and is not to be taken as legal advice.