From the small cabin in the woods to the multi-million dollar cottages on Lake Michigan, many Michigan families have a “home away from home.”  Maybe it’s a cottage, maybe it’s a second home.  In either case, it is a place filled with memories, stories and important family moments.  As a Grand Rapids, Michigan estate planning and cottage succession planning attorney, it is no surprise to me that many cottage owners want to ensure that the “family cottage” stays in the family for as long as possible.  They want to make sure future generations have the same opportunity for family bonding and memories that they’ve had.

And yet many Michigan cottage owners do the complete opposite of what it necessary to reach this goal.  Many assume that “it will work itself out.”  Or they figure that “all my kids get along and they know that I want to keep it in the family as long as possible . . . I trust them to take care of it.”  In my experience, relying on things to “work themselves out” virtually guarantees that they won’t.

Cottage planning is not putting your children’s names on the deed to the property or letting your foundational estate plan handle the distribution.  Cottage planning is much more . . . and rightly so given the number of family members who can ultimately benefit from it.

The goal of cottage planning is to create a legal structure that will help ensure the cottage stays in the family for generations to come . . . rather than leaving it to chance.  A proper cottage succession plan is created with a unique blend of estate planning, business planning and real estate law.  If done correctly, it can even protect the cottage from creditors, lawsuits and divorce among the future generations.  Truly creating a legacy that you can be proud of.

In future posts I will delve into some of the cottage planning strategies that work.  In the meantime, call us at 616-827-7596 if you want to make sure that the “handing down” of your cottage isn’t left to chance.

Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and business planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™.  This goes beyond merely planning for finances – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you.  He focuses on estate and asset protection planning for  the “experienced” generation, the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses, cottage planning and pet planning.  He takes the “counselor” part of attorney and counselor at law very seriously, and enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients – many of which have become great friends.