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Preserving the Family Vacation Home for Generations to Come

Preserving the Family Vacation Home for Generations to Come
Estate Planning and Probate
Jason Neufeld
June 22, 2023

Estate planning is an important step that everyone should consider, especially when it comes to family vacation homes. These properties often hold deep sentimental value and years of memories for each family member since they’ve often been passed down through generations. 

It’s understandable, then, that you would want to ensure the property is passed to the right people when you pass away. 

Let’s discuss estate planning for family vacation homes, including the benefits of planning, important steps to take, potential obstacles to avoid, and how a Florida estate planning attorney can help.

Understanding Estate Planning for Family Vacation Homes

Estate planning basics for a family vacation home involve preparing for the transfer of ownership and management of the property upon the owner's death. 

The goal is to preserve the property for future generations while minimizing estate taxes, probate costs, and potential conflicts. After all, you don’t want your beneficiaries to inherit this property just to have it financially burden them in the long run. 

Benefits of Estate Planning for Family Vacation Homes

  • Preserving family memories and traditions — A family vacation home often holds many cherished memories and traditions that families want to pass down to future generations.
  • Avoiding potential family conflicts — Lack of estate planning can cause disagreements and disputes among family members about owning, using, and managing the family vacation home.
  • Minimizing estate taxes and probate costs — Estate planning can reduce the financial burden of transferring ownership and management of the property.

Potential Obstacles to Avoid With Your Family Vacation Home

  • Failure to plan — can lead to legal and financial problems and family conflicts
  • Unclear ownership structure — can create confusion and disputes about who has the right to use and manage the property
  • Failure to consider expenses — can lead to financial burdens on the heirs and potential property loss
  • Failure to address potential conflicts — can lead to family disputes and legal battles

What Are Some Common Ownership Structures for a Family Vacation Home?

When structuring your estate plan, you may want to consider choosing an ownership structure for a family vacation home that works for your family’s needs. 

The good news is that there are a few common ownership structures for vacation homes that are shared by a family.

Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy is a type of co-ownership where all owners have an equal right to the property and upon the death of one owner, the property automatically transfers to the surviving owners. 

This option can be simple and straightforward, but it also means that the property cannot be passed down to future generations beyond the surviving owners.

Tenancy in Common

Another common type of co-ownership, tenancy in common, is when each owner has a specified percentage of ownership, and their share of the property can be sold or passed down to heirs. 

This option allows for more flexibility in passing the property down through generations, but it can also lead to potential conflicts among owners if they have different ideas about the use and management of the property.


A trust is a legal entity that can hold title to the property and distribute the property according to the terms of the trust agreement. This option can provide more flexibility and control over how the property is passed down and used and can also provide tax benefits. 

Revocable Living Trusts, when structured properly, can provide clarity as to who is in charge of the property, keep funds available for the property’s maintenance and repairs, what happens if beneficiaries are not contributing to upkeep, how proceeds are split if property is sold, a fair way of valuing the property should one beneficiary wish to buy out the others, etc.

Important Steps to Take When Estate Planning for Family Vacation Homes

  • Identify the future owner(s). Determine who will own and manage the property after the current owner's death.
  • Consider different ownership structures. Joint tenancy, tenancy in common, LLCs. or a revocable/irrevocable trust are common options for holding title to the property.
  • Create a plan for maintenance and expenses. Establish a plan for managing expenses, such as taxes, utilities, and repairs, to ensure the property remains in good condition.
  • Plan for potential conflicts. Consider potential conflicts and create a plan to avoid or resolve them, such as establishing rules for use or creating a buyout option.
  • Consult with an estate planning attorney. An experienced attorney can help navigate the legal complexities of estate planning and ensure the plan is legally enforceable.

Let an Experienced Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Help You Preserve Your Family’s Cherished Property

Preserving a family vacation home for future generations requires careful estate planning strategies. By taking the necessary steps to plan for ownership, expenses, and potential conflicts, families can ensure that their cherished memories and traditions will be passed down for generations.

If you need help navigating the estate planning process for your family’s vacation home, contact us today at Elder Needs Law. We’ll ensure your family’s property is secure and there are no surprises down the road for your beneficiaries.

Jason Neufeld

Jason Neufeld is the Founder and Managing Partner of Elder Needs Law, a Florida estate planning and elder law firm he created in 2017. With more than 15 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including Medicaid planning, estate planning, elder law, probate, Medicare, and life insurance.

Jason received his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami — School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Broward County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Rising Star and Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers and among the Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend in 2024.

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