How to ensure family rental stays with the siblings?

My siblings and I were bequeathed a summer cottage in Rhode Island when our father passed away. While we technically own the structure, we rent the property (to use from May to October). As per the campground owner’s stipulation, only one sibling’s name can be on the lease.

This makes us nervous, since if that sibling died or divorced, their spouse might feel entitled to a portion of the cottage, not to mention, there is no record of the other 2 siblings.

Our question: how to we protect our rental and keep it only with the siblings?

ANSWER BY MARGARET CROSS-BELIVEAU:

Of course a surviving spouse would expect that the deceased spouse’s ownership would flow to the survivor.  That is the point of marriage, is it not?

Ownership of a cottage would be proven by the deed.  It doesn’t have anything to do with which person is listed on the lease.

What should you do to keep the property between the three of you?  Putting it into an LLC will give you creditor protection.  However, the ownership will transfer upon someone’s death, so you all would need to execute wills stating where the LLC interest goes upon death.  That doesn’t prevent a sibling from changing is will and leaving it to his spouse.  You all can create a joint irrevocable trust.  The question does become:  What happens when all of you die?  Who gets the property.

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Legal Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on since each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. A lawyer experienced in the subject area and licensed to practice in the jurisdiction should be consulted for legal advice.

Beliveau Law Group: Massachusetts | Florida | New Hampshire

The estate administration and estate planning attorneys at the Beliveau Law Group provide legal services for estate planning, probate, estate administration, and trust administration. The law firm has offices and attorneys in Naples, Florida; Waltham, Massachusetts; and Salem, New Hampshire.

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