Passing Down the Household Cottage

Appropriate planning will enable a family to delight in the home for generations. There are a number of essential concerns any home owner ought to think about. This post will discuss the proper channels to follow in order to keep the family cottage in the family.

Ah, the family cottage. The image conjures thoughts of relaxing under a shady stand of oaks, splashing in the lake, the distinct smell of a campfire. A home is frequently an individual’s most essential possession, if not from a monetary standpoint, then definitely from a psychological one. Deciding how future generations will gain from the family home is often difficult.
Appropriate planning will enable a household to enjoy the cottage for generations. There are several key concerns any cottage owner need to consider.

Common Concerns
Many home owners do not offer adequate idea to problems that can trigger serious threats to preserving the cottage through the generations. Real estate and estate taxes need to belong to any planning conversation, but typically are overlooked (income taxes ought to also be thought about, however are not the focus here). Even “easier” considerations, such as how the next generation will share the home, are often unexplored.

Real estate taxes: In basic, property is reassessed (“uncapped”) with every transfer of property. Michigan law offers for certain exceptions to the uncapping rules which ought to constantly be thought about when planning for the future of a cottage.
Estate taxes: In 2009, the very first $3.5 million of each individual’s estate is exempt from estate tax; any excess is subject to a 45 percent tax (although married couples typically can postpone this tax up until the survivor’s death). In return, the income tax cost basis of the property is “stepped-up”– all gain is eliminated.

The next generation: Moms and dads frequently presume that their children will get along after the moms and dads’ death. Yet even amicable household circumstances can be strained when a cottage is left equally to multiple children who have differing capabilities to use, preserve, and/or pay for the cottage. The danger of partition– likely resulting in the forced sale of the cottage– looms need to conflicts over such problems occur. Correct advance planning can resolve these concerns in methods that are helpful to everyone.
Potential Solutions

Joint ownership agreements: Michigan law excuses certain transfers of collectively held property from uncapping. Adding people to the cottage title ought to not lead to uncapping and may belong to a broader plan to move ownership to a more youthful generation. This can result in unexpected repercussions and issues relating to control. In this scenario, using a joint ownership agreement to set forth guidelines regarding the ownership and usage of the cottage is highly advised.
Qualified Individual House Trust (QTRP): If estate taxes are a main concern, a QPRT can be efficient. A QPRT holds title to real estate for a specified duration, throughout which the grantor maintains the special right to use the property. When the term ends, the property passes to others (e.g., the grantor’s descendants).

Annual exclusion presents utilizing an LLC: Another common technique to decrease estate taxes is to make “annual exemption” presents. People may give up to $13,000 annually (or $26,000 for a couple) to as numerous people as they like without federal transfer tax effects. Recording deeds each year can be cumbersome.
Federal law allows the application of valuation discounts to minority interests in LLCs, allowing a donor to give subscription interests worth more than the stated present tax value. Congress might act in the near future to get rid of these discounts, so the donor ought to understand the law in impact when any presents are made.

Cottage ownership by trust or LLC: The most difficult decisions in cottage planning typically include succession of ownership. Decisions often need to be made to assist in shared usage of the cottage. Ownership as “tenants-in-common”– with each child owning a fractional interest– may be easy, however frequently causes problems, especially as the variety of owners increases.
Ownership of the home by a trust or an LLC is typically the finest choice. The underlying agreement includes guidelines regarding use of property, how expenses are paid, and what occurs when a helpful owner dies.

What to Do?
Determining which planning vehicle is more proper depends on the scenarios and the owner’s intent. The owner and her advisors must consider the following goals and their relative significance– the answers will recommend the proper ownership entity:

Avoiding estate and gift taxes for multiple generations.
Planning for home ownership and succession must not be taken lightly. Without adequate planning, various taxes and household arguments can ruin the future enjoyment of the cottage.

Unfortunately, there is no “cookie-cutter” formula to such planning. A household’s objectives and individual relationships will influence the ultimate choices. With mindful thought and consideration, a household can develop a plan to ensure generations of family memories at that family’s most crucial asset.