Cottage Succession Planning

FOCA and estate lawyer Peter Lillico have been teaching families about cottage succession planning for the past decade!

FOCA’s Cottage Succession Seminar events are free to FOCA Members & Friends of FOCA (our annual supporters)! The event slides are shared with registrants, but not the recordings; access to digital recordings of Peter’s talks can be purchased separately for your family’s review (see below).

Thank you to our member associations who are the local hosts, bringing these messages to their member families!

Payment for Webinar: Cottage Succession Planning

2023 Cottage Succession Seminar Season: 

Register now to attend one of this year’s remaining webinar sessions:

  • Wed. Oct. 18th at 7pm by webinar for all FOCA members! – “It’s All About the Kids: Cottage Succession Planning.” Register using this link (include your FOCA affiliation to be confirmed). This session provides a deeper dive into considerations around which kids to include in the ownership plan, how to protect them, and secure your family cottage legacy.
  • Wed. Oct. 25th at 7pm by webinar for the Lake Weslemkoon Conservation Association – “Cottage Succession A to Z” – an introduction to the topic – register using this link.

Completed Sessions:

  • March 22, 2023 (completed) by webinar for the Sunny Lake Cottage Association
  • June 3rd (completed) in-person for Hastings Highlands FOCA member groups including the Baptiste Lake Association, Diamond Lake Cottage Owners Association, Kamaniskeg Area Property Owners, Lake St. Peter Property Owners’ Association, Mink Lake Property Owners Association, Papineau Lake Cottagers Association, and the Salmon Trout Property Owners Association. 
  • June 7th (completed) by webinar for the Bennett & Fagan Lakes Association
  • June 14th (completed) by webinar for the Severn River Association of Property Owners (SRAPO) 
  • June 21st (completed) by webinar for the Farlain Lake Community Association
  • Sept. 6th (completed) by webinar for the Big Basswood Lake Property Owners’ Association 
  • Sept. 14th by webinar (completed) co-hosted by the Four Mile Lake Association and the Shadow Lakes Association.

If your FOCA Member Association is interested in hosting an in-person or digital event over the coming year, please email the office for an information sheet that will get the conversation going. This is a great benefit for your member families, and helps to show the active value of your Association’s annual membership in FOCA.

Each 1.5 hour session with the estate lawyer – whether in person or virtual – includes valuable information about parts of the cottage succession process:

  1. COTTAGE SUCCESSION A to Z (this is the recommended introductory/overview session– previously called Keeping the ‘Family’ in the Family Cottage) – Cottage succession planning intro, with an overview of  the legal, tax, and family issues that will need to be addressed.
  2. AGREEMENTS AVOID ADVERSITY – Why a Cottage Sharing Agreement is the crucial first foundation for shared future family cottage ownership; what protections and provisions they must include; and how best to develop one for your family.
  3. TARGETING TAX – How capital gains tax works; how to avoid it; techniques to reduce or defer it; planning approaches to fund it.
  4. TRUSTING THE COTTAGE – How a combination of trust techniques can combine to: retain control of the cottage by the parents for their lifetimes; ensure that the cottage passes to their children after their death without probate tax; provide protections for the cottage against children’s creditors or divorcing spouses. Peter’s advice on trusts was referred to by Penny Caldwell in the early summer 2018 Cottage Life Magazine as “sweet and innovative.”
  5. COTTAGES AT THE CROSSROADS: Choosing the Path – This session assumes the cottagers want to keep the cottage in the family and explains the pros and cons of different succession vehicles: Direct personal ownership by children; corporate ownership; or trust ownership.
  6. SEIZE THE DAY OR BIDE YOUR TIME? Should the changeover be sooner (during the parents’ lifetime, while they are able to be involved in the transition) or later (on death, through their Wills)? Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  7. CHOOSING CHILDREN CHALLENGES – How parents can ensure ownership lands in the right hands, considering different expectations for usage, finances, geographic proximity, and more.
  8. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS – Thinking about passing on the cottage to your children? The critical questions are: Which kids to include? How to help the kids share ownership? How to protect the kids and the cottage against creditor or divorce claims and capital gains tax? Successful choices will result in the cottage remaining a source of joy for future generations, but a wrong call can result in the cottage becoming an ongoing bone of contention or being sold. This presentation will provide the information you need to make the best decisions to leave your family a lasting cottage legacy. 

If you are interested in holding a Cottage Succession event in your area contact the FOCA office.

Start your own plan to keep the cottage in the family. Learn what you need to do NOW, to protect the family cottage for the future.

You can purchase access to digital recordings of some of Peter Lillico’s cottage succession talks, so you can review them with your family at your leisure:

Title #1 – Cottage Succession Planning “A” to “Z”  – this is the recommended introductory session that provides an overview of considerations for starting your cottage succession plan (recorded 2021)

Title #2 – Cottage Sharing Agreements – an in-depth look at considerations for creating the Cottage Sharing Agreement, one important step in your cottage succession process (recorded 2016)

Title #3 – Targeting Tax – an in-depth session explaining capital gains tax, and tips to reduce or defer it (recorded 2020)

Title #4 – Trusting the Cottage – an in-depth look at trust techniques (recorded in 2021)

Title #5Seize the Day or Bide your Time? – an in-depth look at choosing when to transfer the cottage to the kids (recorded in 2023)

Pricing: $40 each (+ HST)

Bulk Discounts: buy 2 for $5 off; buy 3 for $20 off; buy 4 for $30 off; buy 5 for $40 off

After online payment, you will receive an email with the online link(s) to view the digital video recording(s) as many times as you wish, and you may share the link(s) with your family members.

NOTE: Internet is required to view the video postings.

Please note: the following is archival material, and some links to third-party resources may no longer be active.

January 2023 – “Cottage Concerns” – a three-part series by Peter Lillico about succession planning (Peterborough Examiner) – Part 1: Sprinkling Cottage Trusts; Part 2: Cottage Sharing Agreements; Part 3: Prenuptual Agreements

June 3, 2021 – Peter Lillico quoted in: The perils of passing down the family cottage (Globe & Mail)

August 22, 2020 –Navigating the often rough waters of cottage ownership (Peterborough This Week)

Peter Lillico is quoted in this article about “What happens to our joint-owned cottage after we pass?” from Cottage Life.

June 2018 – Peter Lillico is quoted in this article: “What to know about owning a cottage with friends or family,” Times Colonist.

Peter is also the backbone of this article: “How to hand down your cottage while keeping the peace and saving money,” Cottage Life, by Penny Caldwell.

4 different ways families approached cottage succession,” Cottage Life, by Penny Caldwell.

Sept.2015 – Read this article about FOCA’s Cottage Succession Seminar series with estate lawyer Peter Lillico (source: My Kawartha)

Additional info for our American Friends with cottages in Ontario:

Most of the material covered in the FOCA Cottage Succession Seminar series is applicable to Americans as well as Canadians; however, their are tax and trust subtleties that you should discuss with your lawyer and accountant.

Are you an American who owns property in Canada? If so, you may be able to save money with the help of American Friends of Canadian Conservation by making your gifts of land or interests in land, cash and securities tax deductible. Learn more here:

In 2016, FOCA connected with American Friends of Canadian Conservation to discuss conservation and cottage succession planning for American owners of property in Ontario’s cottage country. The organization helps U.S. taxpayers learn about and address the challenges of Canadian capital gains, and explore how they can create a conservation strategy for their lands that will meet their financial goals.