The best first step is to talk to a neutral person who is not sentimentally or otherwise emotionally attached to the cottage. A professional adviser can guide you through the process of title, usage, finances, upkeep, and current and future generations.
What is the best vehicle for ownership? A trust? A limited liability company? Do you transfer it into the names of all the siblings? Who will pay for taxes, insurance, maintenance, improvements? As adult children have their own families sharing becomes more difficult to plan and allocate. Can the property be rented? If so, how will it be advertised? Who deals with the tenants and their problems? If one of the siblings needs cash or has no use for the cottage, how can she transfer her interest?
A lawyer who has experience with advising owners of vacation homes is the best consultant to turn to for answers to these issues. On these very issues, we have advised clients and their families and drafted appropriate documentation such as trusts, deeds and other agreements. Getting together all the family stakeholders with a lawyer can usually produce consensus and agreements that all can live with. Contact Jay Weintraub at BoneeWeintraub for more information.