beach vacation home

Ways to Preserve Your Family Vacation Home for Future Generations

A vacation home is more than just a piece of real estate. They often hold sentimental value as families recount fond memories of good times spent together. Although the family structure may change as people get divorced or pass away, many prefer that the vacation home stays in the family so they can pass it down through the generations.

Fortunately, you can accomplish this through estate planning. As you think about your family’s future, there are a few considerations you need to make concerning preserving your vacation home.

Asking the Right Questions

Avoiding assumptions is critical in deciding how to pass down your vacation home. It is wise to speak with the person or group of people you plan to transfer the property to and discuss their plans and preferences. Ask questions such as:

  • Who wants the vacation home?
  • Who thinks they will get the most use out of it?
  • Can the people who will own the property work through their issues together?
  • Who will be responsible for taxes and maintenance costs?

Knowing the answers to these questions can help you avoid creating arguments about the property among family members or wasting resources gifting or transferring the home to someone who doesn’t want it.

Specific Preservation Methods

Once you know who wants the vacation home and that those people have the resources to maintain it, it’s time to start considering your legal options for preserving the house. The method that works for you and your family will depend on several factors, including preferences, timing, and your family’s financial outlook.

Joint Ownership

In this legal arrangement, you and your beneficiaries become joint tenants of the property. In a simple joint tenancy agreement, all parties share the property equally. 

California also offers tenancy in common, an agreement in which you don’t share the property equally, and you can add or transfer interest shares over time. In a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship agreement, property shares pass to the surviving owners when one party dies.

This happens regardless of your will and comes with exposing your assets to lawsuits and creditor claims brought against your beneficiaries.

Gifting the Property

You can also freely gift the property to your children or beneficiaries. While this comes with a few tax implications, you can grant portions of the property each year to mitigate some of these penalties. This solution reduces the size of your estate but has complex rules you must follow, such as getting the home appraised each year.

Transfer-On-Death Deed

This simple option transfers the deed of your vacation home to your beneficiaries upon death. You get the benefit of retaining ownership during your lifetime, and those you pass the property to will likely be able to avoid probate. 

Limited Liability Company

Instead of transferring your vacation home to a person or group, you can transfer it to an entity. An LLC allows you to give interest in the company to your children over time while you retain most of the control. The company’s operating agreement settles most rights and responsibilities issues and protects beneficiaries from lawsuits and creditors.


A trust gives you the power to designate a trustee who will execute your plans and wishes concerning the estate. This arrangement protects your vacation home from probate and other estate disputes. You can use a Qualified Personal Residence Trust, which gives the benefit of a future interest gift while helping to minimize taxes even further.

Let an Attorney Help You Hold On to Your Memories

Passing down a piece of property shouldn’t be an afterthought. Successfully preserving your family vacation home requires meticulous planning and the help of someone who understands the legal implications of every decision. Speak to an Orange County, CA, estate planning attorney at OC Wills & Trusts about your family’s estate planning, wills, and trusts, and let our team help you find a solution that works for everyone.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.