If Your Family Owns a Vacation Home, Address it Carefully in Your Estate Plan

If Your Family Owns a Vacation Home, Address it Carefully in Your Estate Plan

CPAs & Advisors

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For many people, the disposition of a family home is an emotionally charged estate planning issue. And emotions may run even higher with vacation homes, which often evoke even fonder memories. So, it’s important to address your vacation home carefully in your estate plan.

Keeping the peace

Before you do anything, talk with your loved ones about the vacation home. Simply dividing the home equally among your children or other family members may be an invitation to conflict and hurt feelings. Some may care more about keeping the home in the family than about any financial benefits it might provide. Others may prefer to sell the home and use the proceeds for other needs.

One solution is to leave the vacation home to the family members who want it and leave other assets to those who don’t. Alternatively, you can develop a buyout plan that establishes the terms under which family members who want to keep the home can buy the interests of those who want to sell. The plan should establish a reasonable price and payment terms, which might include payment in installments over several years.

You also may want to create a usage schedule for nonowners whom you wish to continue enjoying the vacation home. And to help alleviate the costs of keeping the vacation home in the family, consider setting aside assets that will generate income to pay for maintenance, repairs, property taxes and other expenses.

Transferring the home

After determining who will receive your vacation home, there are several traditional estate planning tools you can use to transfer it in a tax-efficient manner. It may make sense to transfer interests in the home to your children or other family members now, using tax-free gifts.

But if you’re not yet ready to give up ownership, consider a qualified personal residence trust (QPRT). With a QPRT, you transfer a qualifying vacation home to an irrevocable trust, retaining the right to occupy the home during the trust term. At the end of the term, the home is transferred to your beneficiaries, though it’s possible to continue occupying the home by paying them fair market rent. The transfer is a taxable gift of your beneficiaries’ remainder interest, which is only a fraction of the home’s current fair market value.

You must survive the trust term, and the vacation home must qualify as a “personal residence,” which means, among other things, that you use it for the greater of 14 days per year or more than 10% of the total number of days it’s rented out.

Discussing your intentions

These are only a few of the issues that may be involved in passing on a vacation home. Estate planning for a vacation home may be complicated but it doesn’t have to be. The key is to sit down with your family to discuss the options. Only then can you put together a plan that meets everyone’s needs. Contact us with questions about the most tax-efficient way to proceed.

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