Who gets the Family Cabin?

As the saying goes,
A family cabin isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.

We all know that a family cabin is more than just a building. Beyond the beautiful views, a family cabin is a place of nostalgia where countless summers are spent making memories with your children. Family cabins are important family legacies. Our clients often find themselves going to the same place for vacation as their parents or grandparents did. Families that have a cabin often want to pass it along to the next generation.

But how? And what is fair? Maybe the kids can split it equally? But… what happens when the grandkids are adults and want time for themselves (and their families)?

When you start to ask these questions, it is time to speak with your attorney. Through Estate Planning, you and your attorney can plan what happens to your property (including the family cabin) and your money after you are gone.

If you have more than one child, or your child has more than one child, the question inevitably arises: Who gets the family cabin? Most parents’ first instinct is to divide the cabin equally among their children (or grandchildren). This can be accomplished in a number of ways, each with their benefits and challenges.


The first option is to leave the ownership outright to your family through your Will or a transferring deed. The hazard with splitting ownership equally is trusting several people to run it as securely as one person. If, for example, your family cabin is left to your four children as owners and then, at the next generation, is left to your fifteen grandchildren, how will they determine who gets to use it and when? Every family member is going to want to be there on the 4th of July. Also, what happens if one person wants to sell? Or, if one of the owners goes bankrupt or has extreme credits issues? You do not want the family cabin to end up on public sale or subject to a creditor’s lien. That’s how you end up with a rich developer from Florida bulldozing your lake house to build rentals.


Second, you may establish a Family Cabin Trust that splits the property interest equally for the benefit of your children, keeping the cabin out of probate and ensuring there is a mechanism to protect the cabin from creditors. However, trusts are not ideal for every situation. The administration of the trust, including the necessity of having a trustee, meeting annual reporting requirements, and filing tax returns may prove more of a burden than some families can manage. It also is not foolproof, and a determined beneficiary or alliance of beneficiaries can conspire to undermine the protections of the trust.

Family Cabin LLC

A third option is to place the family cabin into a limited liability company (LLC). The effect is that your family cabin will be owned and managed like a business. This allows you to set-up an ownership board, composed of your children and/or grandchildren, to manage everything. When establishing the LLC, you get to set the rules for voting and decision-making. Meaning that you can set a system for managing who gets to use the cabin and when, and also approving any specific time share requests from family members. A Family Cabin LLC also creates a mechanism for your children and grandchildren to liquidate their shares or be bought out by the rest of the board, while the family still retains ownership of the family cabin. Another benefit is the financial protection of the cabin from family members’ creditors.

Get in Touch

Estate Planning is all about the same thing: protecting the legacy of your family. To set up a plan for your family cabin, contact Grabitske Law, PLC. We can help!

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Grabitske Law Firm, PLC

For nearly two decades, Paul Grabitske has been helping clients with their legal issues in the areas of estate planning, probate, trust administration, business law, agricultural law and litigation.

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