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Don't let a beloved family cabin rip your family apart

Many Ohio residents grow up making regular visits to a family vacation home or cabin. Often such a property was purchased by one's grandparents and then passed down to adult children. While vacation properties like cottages and cabins are often treasured by family members who associate such properties with childhood nostalgia, these types of properties can also be the subject of bitter inheritance disputes among family members.

To avoid potential disputes, individuals who plan to transfer ownership of property to heirs would be wise to consult with an estate planning professional. This is especially important in cases where a family cabin has already been passed down and, as a result, already has multiple owners.

Say for example, an individual's grandparents purchased a cabin on Lake Erie. Upon their passing, ownership of the cabin automatically transferred to their only child who, upon death transferred ownership to her three children who now co-own the property. While the current ownership arrangement of three grown siblings and their respective families sharing the property has posed some challenges, the three siblings have been able to work things out relatively peaceably.

However, what happens when one of these siblings dies? Does that sibling's portion of ownership pass to a surviving spouse? What about when all three siblings are gone? How would the nine surviving offspring of these siblings handle ownership costs and privileges? What about if a co-owner marries or divorces?

Many Ohio residents dream of one day owning a vacation cabin and passing it down to future generations. In the case an individual is able to fulfill this dream, it's important to take steps to account for the transfer of a property's ownership to one's heirs. It's also wise to consider and account for how heirs will cover costs related to taxes, maintenance and repairs.

Ohio residents who are dealing with disputes over the inheritance of a vacation property would be wise to consult with an attorney who can answer questions, provide advice and represent an individual's best interests in any legal proceedings.

Source: Kiplinger, "How to Pass Down a Vacation Home," Vickie Elmer, December 2014

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