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Time to think about sharing the family cottage

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By now, you have likely opened for your cottage for the season. In addition to the
annual repairs and maintenance, you might be preparing for summer guests.


Cottages are often intensely wrapped up in memories — the good times building it, the great times spent with your young family, the friends stopping by, the barbecues, the campouts and so much more!  


I have friends who actually rented the cottage their parents used to own so they could take their children there, just once, to relive the fun times they had there.


As they grow into adults with their own families, children may no longer want to come out to the cottage. Sometimes they lack time. Sometimes they feel they have just outgrown the wilds of Manitoba. Perhaps they’ve moved to other provinces. It’s not uncommon to see only a select few adult children coming out to the family cottage with their families in tow.


Will this become a problem in the future?


What becomes of the once-loved family cottage? As the parents age, is there one adult child who seems destined to take over the cottage? Would all the kids be happier to just receive the proceeds of the sale of the cottage (after taxes, of course)?


Do the parents think they will just bequeath it in their will to all the children and let them figure out how to pay the taxes on the capital gains?


One of the worst stories I’ve heard about fighting over a family cottage involved four children in a different province who had all inherited the family cottage equally.


They worked out a schedule so all their holiday plans were fulfilled. Then one of the inheritors divorced. The divorcing ex-spouse wanted only cash for their part of this cottage. Sadly, the inheritor had to force the sale of the cottage to pay off the ex. None of the three other siblings and their families had the cash to defray the cost owed the ex-spouse, so they had no choice but to sell.


Now no one in that family has the cottage. This was certainly never what the parents intended.
This summer, while enjoying your family time at your getaway, observe who is truly passionate about the place. Make plans to ensure that your cherished cottage gets passed on to those most likely to share in your cottage passion. And most of all, enjoy yourself!


Valerie Chatain-White is a community correspondent for Headingley. You can contact her at valerie@thenext30years.com

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