Without A Plan, Your Cabin Can Become A Problem

Your cabin or recreational land is probably a smooth operation now. Family traditions designate who repairs what, who pays for what, who talks to the bank and insurance company, and most importantly, who brings what to grill and fill the cooler when everybody gets together.

In a perfect world these traditions and arrangements would carry on after you are gone. In the event of confusion or disagreement, your kids, a surviving spouse, and other family members would hammer out these responsibilities amicably. Unfortunately, the world is not perfect, and a legal instrument like a trust or a limited liability corporation (LLC) can help you define, delegate, and communicate rights and responsibilities in a way that preserves what you have built for the enjoyment, not strife, of your loved ones.

Even property that you have designated to your children or other individuals in your will can end up subject to many contingencies and liabilities you did not plan for. Creditors outside the family may come for a share of your land through the courts, through divorce actions, bankruptcy or tax liens. Your descendants, feeling entitled to their share, but not knowing exactly what it entails, may quarrel over who gets a cabin for a holiday or opening season.

Depending on the type of legal property you designate, one descendant with means may end up paying for maintenance and repairs while other descendants take advantage. This issue can become more severe with mortgage, tax, and insurance payments. Often descendants have differing levels of personal assets, incomes and means or desire to use the property. If one or more descendants someday feel it is time to sell or develop the property, another descendant with a sentimental or financial interest may hold up a sale. In the worst case, your family may even end up fighting in court which is never my goal for a client.

If you have a cabin or recreational land you would like to preserve, it is important to take action now to protect your property from creditors and future legal entanglements. You cannot predict what unfortunate circumstances may or may not occur, but an experienced attorney can make sure you are prepared.