Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location


You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation

Contests and

AARP’s Superstar
2015 Contest

Sing for a chance to win $5,000! Enter AARP’s Superstar 2015 Contest!
See official rules.

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Succession Planning

Who Inherits the Cottage by the Lake?

To stop siblings from squabbling, put a plan in writing

Family going on vacation

— Bill Owens/Gallery Stock

It’s summertime and if you’re fortunate enough to own a vacation home, you’re likely there, adding more memories of pontoon boat rides, fish fries and Fourth of July celebrations.

But if you see those traditions continuing long after you’re gone, you’d better find out whether your children have the same plan—and then put it in writing. If you don’t, trouble ahead could spell the end of your family legacy.

“For many families, the family cottage is one of the most valuable assets that mom and dad own,” says David Fry, coauthor of Saving the Family Cottage and a senior partner at Rockford, Mich.-based law firm Blakeslee, Fry and Scales, which specializes in cottage succession law and planning.

According to the 2000 Census, there are more than 3.5 million vacation homes in the country, many of them handed down from parents to children. The issue, Fry explains, is that some siblings see a cottage as part of the family heritage and want to hang on to it at any reasonable cost, while others view it as an economic asset to quickly turn into cash.

Without a cottage succession plan in place, ownership goes to all children equally—and the result is almost always conflict.

Worst-case scenario: One sibling would rather have cash over a share in the cottage and the other siblings are unable to produce the buyout lump sum without selling it.

“I have clients where siblings aren’t even speaking to each other anymore,” he adds. “In many cases, I’m hired as much as a family counselor and mediator because the lines of communication have become so fractured that it’s impossible to do anything.”

Next: Starting a sucesssion plan. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

membership benefit financial college aarp

Advice on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.