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Estate Planning: Our Guide To Owning A Vacation Home

Estate Planning: Our Guide to Owning A Vacation Home

Spending time with your family during vacations is incredibly fun and rewarding. For this reason, investing in a vacation home can make these get-togethers much easier to plan—you don’t have to worry about locations and logistics; you can just enjoy your time together! No matter the location, your family vacation home can be a magnet for family members to converge and create special memories.

Purchasing any type of property requires thorough planning, especially if you’re buying a vacation home in another province or country from your place of residence. Many complications can come up regarding its title, ownership, and heirship once you pass away.

If you own a vacation home or you’re planning to purchase one, here are some estate planning issues you should consider:

1. Name on the Title

When you purchase a vacation home, you need to decide who holds the title and how. Will it be held in your name as well as your spouse’s? If it’s owned jointly, what happens in the event of the death of one co-owner? If you’re renting it out most of the year, should it be owned by a trust?

There’s no single correct answer to these questions. Your decisions will depend on what you want to do with the house, the relationship between co-owners, and how you want to set up inheritance in the event of your death. An estate lawyer will help you settle all of these details before you put an agreement to paper.

2. Location

Vacation homes are your home away from home, so you may decide to purchase one in a different province, country, or continent. Owning real estate in other locations makes the execution of your will much more complicated because property regulations in ancillary locations may be different.

For example, if you purchase a home in a country with forced heirship laws, you will not be able to choose who will inherit your property. These laws mandate that the property will go to your spouse and children, with set percentages for each. In common law jurisdictions, you will not be allowed to keep the property in trust; instead, it will be passed on to other beneficiaries in your will.

Depending on the location of your vacation home, you may have to draft a specific, separate will to address it. If your vacation home is located in one of 13 countries that signed the Uniform International Wills Act, having an International Will can help ensure your wishes are met.

3. Property Transfer at Death

Keeping the vacation home within the family may be one of your foremost priorities. If you gift the home to your children or other beneficiaries in the family, the property incurs high real estate taxes. You may choose to gift it outright or gift it in trust. The different forms of ownership each have pros and cons; an experienced estate planning lawyer will help you make an informed decision.


Property ownership and transfer in the event of death can be very complex. If you want your vacation home to remain in the family for generations to come, the process will be made smoother through advanced estate planning. It’s best to seek the advice of an experienced professional to make sure you make the appropriate decisions for you and your family.

If you’re looking for a capable estate planning lawyer in Ottawa, Ontario Wills offers complex, professionally structured, comprehensive estate plans for our clients. We can help you choose the solution that is most suitable for you. Contact our experts today! 

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