Every day, landowners are making decisions about how to manage their land and what to do with their land when they pass on. Many landowners are making these decisions without the benefit of knowing all their options. These decisions not only affect the landowners and their family, but are shaping the landscapes within your community.
Eleanor Rogers owned 10 acres on Little Pleasant Bay in the Cape Cod town of Orleans and planned to leave the property to her son, daughter, and four grandchildren.
Sometimes the difficult decisions involved in creating a plan for your land can make it easy to delay the process. Unfortunately for Alma, she waited too long and her land and heirs suffered the consequences.
Alma stayed on her family’s farm after her siblings moved away to raise families. She shared with her friends and relatives her desire for her farm to remain the way it was. She talked to a land trust and to her lawyer about how to accomplish that goal, but she never reached a decision about just exactly what to do with the land, and as a result, she never did a will at all.
As is the case with many family summer homes and properties, ownership of the Browns’ 500-acre farmstead in a small town in the Berkshires was very complicated and only getting more so as the family grew.
In the course of making a decision about the future of your land, working with family members to get clarity on their wishes for the land can be a critical step in the process. Holding a family meeting can be an effective way of communicating differing objectives and reaching consensus, but they can also be fraught with emotions and difficult family dynamics.