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Conversations to Have at the Family Cabin

June 5, 2019 | Sam Rouman, CFP®, CLU, ChFC, AIF®

Summer is finally here!  You have waited for six months—or longer—to head to the lake spot where for years family has gathered for some rest, relaxation, companionship, food and fun.  These years represent some of the best memories for your whole family as well as friends and neighbors at the lake.  Every weekend you pack into the car, SUV or even the old station wagon for the trip.  You arrive and the to-dos unfurl in front of you:  unpack, open the windows, put groceries in the refrigerator, pull out the lawn furniture, uncover the boat, set up the games, go buy gas for the boat and the list goes on!

Sounds like fun!  And it is. But wow, what a lot of work.  This did not seem like that much work when you were 25 years younger.  It was exciting, invigorating and enjoyable and it remains a labor of love but it’s work, nonetheless.

Tomorrow your son and his family will be arriving.  They are older now, mature adults.  Their children are now older, too, college age in fact, and probably moving away for exciting jobs in far-away places.  You keep thinking that the whole family will continue to come to the cabin for many years, but you are starting to have your doubts.  In fact, the last two summers, the family only came up to the cabin four times, mostly on long holiday weekends. Maybe, you think to yourself, they may come even less this year, or maybe this weekend might be the only time.

It may make you feel a bit sad, but you realize that you and your wife are older too and maintaining two homes just is not that much fun anymore.  Actually, it was not the much fun the last few years. The house is filled with memories, though! You recall the year the squirrel ran into the cabin and everyone was running around screaming!  Fortunately, it ran out the same door it came in.  How your son managed to get a picture of the squirrel, which now hangs on the wall in the cabin entry, is still a great story.

Perhaps you think you should talk to your son about the cabin.  You figured that one day he and the grandchildren would take over and assume ownership and carry on and create new memories and maintain the old ones.  You love this place.  Ever since you set eyes on it those many years ago.  You always figured it would stay in the family.

Your son had said over the years that he would take over some day.  But, he is busy with a good career and family to take care of.  He and his wife, who also has a very demanding career, don’t really have the time.  You could pay someone to take care of things, but this just does not feel the same.

You keep coming back to the memories. Those are really what’s important to you.  Do you think the memories could be created elsewhere?  It’s really being together and sharing life that is important to you.  Yes, the physical beauty of the lake is amazing, but there are many locations like this.

One idea a friend of yours mentioned is to find a vacation rental spot where you could all be together and instead of spending half of the weekend cleaning, you could be spending time making memories.  Yes, renting and paying money for something when you own a place already, may seem odd. If you were to consider selling the cabin, however, how many weekends could you rent a nice place with the proceeds?  Many. Plus, no cleaning, no mowing, no sheets. Something to consider and run by your son.

You never know, your son might be relieved.  He has probably considered this same discussion, too.  Perhaps the time is now to have the conversation.  You don’t have to decide now.  Just open up the talk and see where it goes.  You never know where the conversation might lead!  Perhaps to new memories.

Want to learn more about family succession planning? Start here.

The views and strategies described may not be suitable for all investors. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for accounting, legal or tax advice. References to future returns are not promises or even estimates of actual returns a client portfolio may achieve. Any forecasts contained herein are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be relied upon as advice or interpreted as a recommendation.

The views expressed are those of BerganKDV Wealth Management. They are subject to change at any time. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other firm. Investment advisory services and fee-based planning offered through BerganKDV Wealth Management, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor.

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