Many families have cherished memories at their beach houses or lake homes in Florida. Maybe you watched your children go from toddlers playing in the sand to teens learning to surf. Or maybe you, yourself, have childhood memories that you want to hold on to.
Many second homes are passed down through generations of family members who continue to enjoy them and create special memories. If you are considering passing on a beach house or other type of property to your children, think about a few things first.
Do your children want it?
It may be difficult to think about the idea of your children not wanting to own a piece of property that means so much to you, but sometimes it works out that way. The best way to find out, is to talk to them.
Ask them if they would like to inherit it. If it is important to you, also ask them if they would be willing to do what it takes to keep it in the family after you are gone. Having an honest and open discussion about your expectations and their desires can help you get on the same page.
Can your children afford it?
Even if your children say they want to inherit your property, do they know what it takes to maintain it? Not everyone is in a financial position to own a second property.
Be straight with them about the financial commitment you have made to keep it over the years. It might even be helpful to run some numbers and give them an idea of what they should expect to pay if they choose to take on the responsibility.
Are your children willing to share?
If you have gotten to the point where your children want the home and can afford it, the next step is to have a conversation about who will own it and how you'd like them to use it.
If you have more than one child, are you bequeathing it to one of them with the expectation that they share it with their siblings? Or will you split it between all of your children?
If you plan to give it to one child, but you'd like them to share it, make sure to be clear about that - and even include it in your estate plan. If you plan to split ownership between multiple children, make sure they know that it means sharing in costs and responsibilities when it comes to maintenance and upkeep.
Deciding how to approach your beach home in your estate plan depends greatly on your heirs. They need to be on the same page as you are. Be honest about what you want, and hopefully your children will be, too.
If it works out that everyone is on the same page, you can rest easy knowing that the property will stay in the family. However, if you do not get the answers you were hoping for, it may be wise to think about other options.