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Joint ownership of a cottage can pose a host of unexpected problems

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Joint cottage ownership can make taxes complicated

Joint ownership might sound like the easiest way to pass your cottage along to family, but it can actually create a lot of problems. Without proper written agreements, this can result in a loss of control of the property for either or both parties involved. It can also result in unequal treatment of heirs if the joint ownership is with just one child. Also, don't forget that, "Placing an asset into joint names will expose that asset to the claim of creditors of the new joint owner."

Joint ownership of a cottage can pose a host of unexpected problems

At our cottage north of Toronto, we have a neighbour – Ruth. We can all learn from her story. Ruth has five adult children: Paul, Judy, Ron, Kathie and Peter. A few years ago, she put the cottage into joint ownership with her oldest son, Paul. The reason? To avoid probate fees and facilitate a quick and easy transfer upon her death. While Ruth is at the cottage all summer, the kids aren’t using the cottage much. Judy, Ron and Kathie live outside of Ontario and rarely visit. Peter isn’t interested in the cottage and Paul’s work doesn’t allow him to make it to the cottage more than two or three weekends each year. Paul wants to sell the cottage given the capital improvements that will be required in the next couple of years.

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