What are Possible Pitfalls of Co-Owning a Vacation Home?

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Co-owning a vacation home
KS and MO Attorney Kyle E Krull

Written by Kyle Krull

Attorney & Counsellor at Law Kyle Krull is president of the Law Offices of Kyle E. Krull, P.A., an Estate Planning Law Firm located in Overland Park, KS. Estate Planning Attorney Kyle Krull has provided continuing education instruction to attorneys, accountants, and financial professionals at local, state, and national programs.

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POSTED ON: March 26, 2024

Estate planning can help mitigate some risks and pitfalls associated with co-owning a vacation home.

Co-owning a vacation home can be rewarding as well as risky.

Sometimes, people must leave home to rest and relax physically (and mentally).

This can be especially true for those who own a business, are salaried rather than hourly, or work for "free" as full-time homemakers.

Those who constantly need a reliable option for getting away from home without having to face the logistics of finding and booking lodging may find purchasing a vacation home a good solution.

To reduce the financial burden of this luxury, many people consider the option of co-owning this property.

According to a recent Better Homes and Gardens article titled "What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Vacation Home with Friends or Family," it is wise to consider all the complexities of co-owning a vacation home before committing to the purchase.

Co-owning a vacation home can be risky.

Co-owning a vacation home requires thorough planning and detailed communication.

Why Do People Consider Co-Owning a Vacation Home?

Having a shared space to gather and relax can be quite appealing for family and friends who enjoy each other's company.

Because taking on ownership of another property as an individual is quite costly, many find dividing the expenses with others appealing.

Doing so can allow for a nicer vacation home in a better location.

Additionally, the property value will likely increase over time.

What are the Benefits of Co-Owning a Vacation Home?

The reduced financial burden is the greatest benefit of property co-ownership.

When one family is responsible for paying all the bills alone, the expenses can cause significant stress.

Those who own vacation property may find they must work extra to pay for the land and cannot enjoy the vacation home as frequently as they would like to justify the expense.

Families and friends who own and use the vacation property together can foster deeper relationships and create many shared memories.

What Are the Risks of Joint Vacation Property Ownership?

Although there are many benefits to owning a property with others, there are significant risks.

Friends and family may argue about the property's use, financial responsibilities, maintenance, and even its future.

Suppose one party decides they no longer want to co-own the vacation home. In that case, the other owners will be forced to buy out the portion owned by this individual, take on additional financial responsibilities for the property, or choose to sell the vacation home.

The future of the property could become complicated when one owner dies suddenly or if another owner becomes unable to contribute to bills and mortgages financially.


How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Second Home?

Discussing financial responsibilities and possible pitfalls in detail before joining in co-owning a vacation home is vital.

What should you discuss?

It would help if you decided on the budget, a schedule for using the property, agreements around guests and pets, and even decorations and furnishings.

The legal structure of the co-ownership will also be essential.

You must discuss the pros and cons of forming an LLC to manage the property or becoming tenants in common.

All of your agreements should be made in writing to protect all parties involved.

What is the Importance of Legal Advice when Purchasing Joint-Owned Property?

Co-owning property can impact your estate planning and involve business and real estate law.

You should work with an experienced attorney to draft the contract between you and the vacation home's co-owners, which should outline your rights and responsibilities, financial commitments, and procedures for addressing disagreements.

A formal legal agreement protects your financial interests and relationships with these loved ones.

As one of my clients quipped, "It is amazing how a wet signature on a contract can quickly cure the onset of amnesia."

Conclusion: Is Co-Owning a Vacation Home Right for You?

Although co-owning a vacation home is appealing, it is not for everyone.

Instead, it is fraught with challenges.

Clear communication, professional legal advice, and assistance can help you navigate the dream of having vacation property with your friends or family to maximize the rest and connection this home provides while minimizing possible risks.

What are the Key Takeaways?

While the benefits of joint ownership include pooled resources and more affordable space for lasting memories, there are also possible risks.

Common risks and pitfalls of co-ownership include arguments about use and maintenance, a lack of clarity about the property's future, and possible financial issues.

Because there are risks associated with co-owning a vacation home, you should get legal protection through a detailed agreement and foster honest and open communication.

Finally, owning a vacation property with others will impact your estate plan.

Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure your plan aligns with your goals and the legal arrangement for the vacation home.

Reference: Better Homes and Gardens (June 29, 2023) "What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Vacation Home with Friends or Family"

This post is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. You should contact an attorney for advice concerning any particular issue or problem. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship between Harvest Law KC and the reader.

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