Cottage Trust- Is this the answer for your family? Part 2
We previously addressed the issues of Management generally and of Budgeting for the family cottage. We will now address some other issues that must be considered.
Scheduling Use of the Cottage:
While money squabbles are disruptive, scheduling the use of the cottage may well be the real hot button topic.
In northern Michigan, there are only 12 – 14 good summer vacation weeks available. Clearly, not everyone can have the week of July 4th. Depending on the number of children that you have, it may be impossible to accommodate everyone’s desires and schedules.
What is the mechanism for deciding on the use of the cottage? Should preferences be rotated? Should family members share the prime weeks (presuming that the property is large enough)?
Once the weeks have been assigned, another question is whether people may bring friends with them to the cottage. If so, how many at one time?
Getting it Ready and Keeping it Clean
How will the cottage get opened for the season and how will it be closed? Is that the job of the first and last to use it? Or is this a job that should be assigned annually? Much of this may depend on where your children live. It isn’t practical to expect someone who lives in California to come to Northern Michigan for a weekend simply to shut the cottage down. On the other hand, it is not fair to make this the responsibility of the kids that live nearby every year.
What will the rule be concerning clean-up after use? Everyone likes a clean and tidy place when they arrive. There must be a mechanism to assure that this is the case for each of the children when it comes time for his or her use.
Will the cleaning be done by contracting with a third party for cleaning and lawn services? Is that type of expenditure in the budget? If it is not affordable, will the children want to use part of their vacation week cutting the grass, washing the windows and cleaning the cottage when they are getting ready to leave?
Renting out the Cottage
If one or more the children cannot use the cottage on his/her week(s) in a year, should it be rented out?
If the answer is yes, should it only be rented to individuals that are known to the family? Or to anyone?
Should the rental income be put into the general fund to pay for taxes, expenses, etc., or should the individual who is not using the property be given a portion of the rental?