Passing Down the Household Cottage

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Proper planning will permit a family to take pleasure in the home for generations. There are several essential issues any home owner should think about. This short article will explain the correct channels to follow in order to keep the family cottage in the household.

Ah, the household cottage. The image conjures ideas of unwinding under a shady stand of oaks, sprinkling in the lake, the unique odor of a campfire. A cottage is typically an individual’s crucial possession, if not from a monetary standpoint, then certainly from an emotional one. Choosing how future generations will benefit from the household cottage is frequently difficult.
Appropriate planning will enable a family to enjoy the home for generations. There are several essential issues any cottage owner should consider.

Common Concerns
Many home owners do not offer sufficient thought to concerns that can trigger serious dangers to preserving the home through the generations. Realty and estate taxes need to be part of any planning discussion, but often are neglected (income taxes should likewise be thought about, however are not the focus here). Even “simpler” factors to consider, such as how the next generation will share the cottage, are frequently unexplored.

u2022Real estate taxes: In general, property is reassessed (“uncapped”) with every transfer of property. Michigan law provides for specific exceptions to the uncapping guidelines which need to constantly be considered when planning for the future of a cottage.
u2022Estate 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 normally can postpone this tax until the survivor’s death). In return, the earnings tax expense basis of the property is “stepped-up”– all gain is eliminated.

u2022The next generation: Moms and dads frequently assume that their kids will get along after the moms and dads’ death. Yet even friendly family scenarios can be strained when a home is left similarly to multiple kids who have varying abilities to use, preserve, and/or spend for the home. The danger of partition– most likely leading to the forced sale of the home– looms should disagreements over such issues arise. Appropriate advance planning can resolve these concerns in methods that are helpful to everyone.
Potential Solutions

u2022Joint ownership agreements: Michigan law excuses specific transfers of collectively held property from uncapping. Adding individuals to the cottage title need to not lead to uncapping and might be part of a more comprehensive plan to move ownership to a younger generation. Yet this can result in unintended repercussions and issues regarding control. In this scenario, using a joint ownership contract to set forth rules regarding the ownership and use of the home is highly advised.
u2022Qualified Personal House Trust (QTRP): If estate taxes are a primary concern, a QPRT can be reliable. A QPRT holds title to real estate for a given period, during which the grantor keeps the special right to use the property. When the term ends, the property passes to others (e.g., the grantor’s descendants).

u2022 Yearly exclusion gifts using an LLC: Another typical strategy to reduce estate taxes is to make “annual exclusion” presents. People might quit to $13,000 each year (or $26,000 for a couple) to as many individuals as they like without federal transfer tax consequences. However, recording deeds each year can be troublesome.
Federal law allows the application of appraisal discount rates to minority interests in LLCs, permitting a donor to give membership interests worth more than the specified present tax worth. Congress might act in the future to remove these discounts, so the donor must understand the law in result when any gifts are made.

u2022Cottage ownership by trust or LLC: The most difficult choices in cottage planning frequently involve succession of ownership. Choices frequently have actually to be made to help with shared use of the home. Ownership as “tenants-in-common”– with each child owning a fractional interest– may be basic, but typically triggers problems, especially as the number of owners increases.
Ownership of the home by a trust or an LLC is often the best option. In either case, the underlying agreement consists of rules regarding use of property, how costs are paid, and what happens when an advantageous owner dies.

What to Do?
Determining which planning lorry is better depends upon the circumstances and the owner’s intent. The owner and her advisors should think about the following goals and their relative importance– the answers will suggest the appropriate ownership entity:

u2022Avoiding estate and gift taxes for numerous generations.
Planning for cottage ownership and succession must not be ignored. Without sufficient planning, different taxes and family disputes can destroy the future enjoyment of the cottage.

Unfortunately, there is no “cookie-cutter” formula to such planning. A family’s goals and personal relationships will affect the ultimate decisions. With mindful thought and factor to consider, a household can develop a plan to ensure generations of family memories at that family’s most important asset.

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