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Estate planning with second homes

Many people in California own second homes that they and their families use for vacations. When thinking about how a person's estate and assets will be handled, it is often a good idea to think about how the second home will be handled as well.

When a person has several heirs, a vacation home may be a source of disputes and litigation between them after the person has passed. With careful estate planning and consideration of all of the family dynamics, disputes and bad feelings may largely be avoided. If the beneficiaries are able to get along well, it may be possible to pass the vacation property to them jointly, with the understanding that they will need to make provisions for the responsibility of repairs, property maintenance and property taxes between them.

In other situations, a testator may wish to bequeath the home to one child while leaving another different types of property or assets. Clearly communicating an estate plan to heirs can be vital in such situations to avoid bad feelings and will contests. In some cases, if the heirs do not get along or would be angry if a vacation home was left to one and not the other, it may make the most sense to sell the property and split the money between the heirs through the will. Another option, if the person would like the home to stay in the family but believes his or her children will fight over it, may be to use a generation-skipping trust to pass the home to grandchildren.

There are many ways people may handle passing vacation homes to their heirs. As family dynamics and estate goals vary widely, those who own a second home may wish to discuss the particulars of their family's situation with an estate planning attorney. Doing so may prevent future bad feelings.

Source: Hometown Life, "Consider estate plan for second home", Rick Bloom, December 29, 2014

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