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How a second home could impact estate planning

Gregory A. Lang

Minnesota residents who own a second home may need to account for that property in their estate plan. This is important even if they do not use the property, but other family members do. After the owner of the property passes on, it may be difficult or impossible for other family members to jointly own the property. Failing to have a plan ahead of time could cause lawsuits between family members.

Although it may seem easier to do nothing prior to passing away, that may actually increase the odds of a protracted legal battle. If two or more family members cannot agree on how to use the property, it may be best to sell it prior to passing away. Plans can then be made to pass the funds down to family members equally.

If joint ownership of a property is feasible, there are still many issues that need to be resolved. For instance, someone will have to be responsible for paying property taxes, maintaining the home and paying for other costs associated with it. There should also be documentation that specifies when certain family members have access to the property. It should contain ways to settle disputes that may arise even when the situation may otherwise be amicable between family members.

Anyone who owns multiple properties or any other valuable assets may need to create a plan for how they are to be distributed. Talking to an estate administration attorney might make it easier to create legal documents that stand up to a legal challenge. An attorney may also be able to discuss other needs related to estate planning such as living trusts or wills. These could provide clarity in the event that an individual responsible for the property becomes incapacitated while still alive.

Source: Home Town Life, "Consider estate plan for second home", Rick Bloom, December 22, 2014

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