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How can someone address their hunting land in an estate plan?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Estate Administration & Probate

Hunting is a popular pastime in Fowlerville and throughout Michigan. Many people who hunt, especially those who prioritize turkey hunting or whitetail deer hunting, eventually acquire unimproved acreage or property with a rustic cabin as hunting land.

Hunting property can be both an investment and a means of someone prioritizing their favorite pastime by ensuring they have access that does not rely on other people granting them permission to hunt. As with other real property holdings, hunting land can be a major contributing factor to the overall value of someone’s estate in Michigan.

How can those who love the outdoors manage the descent of their hunting land after their passing?

By arranging for its sale

Perhaps someone moved to Michigan during retirement and only has family in another state. Maybe their children left Michigan for better employment opportunities. Some hunters reach the conclusion that the best solution for their hunting property is to order the personal representative of their estate to sell the property during probate proceedings. This approach can maximize what their loved ones inherit and may minimize the stress an inheritance generates for beneficiaries who might otherwise have to sell the property after acquiring it from the estate.

By leaving it to a particular beneficiary

Oftentimes, testators with hunting land may have enjoyed regular trips to the property with one or more of their chosen beneficiaries. One of their children or grandchildren may have particularly enjoyed spending time there. Testators sometimes select one person to receive their hunting property and may offset the value of their hunting land with other assets that they bequeath to their remaining beneficiaries.

By holding the property in a trust

If hunting is a key family tradition and a testator has multiple beneficiaries who have enjoyed their property in the past, they may decide that they want to maintain the property for multiple people to enjoy. They may also want to prevent the beneficiary who receives the property from selling it as soon as they inherit it. Holding land in a trust is a way to grant access to that property to multiple different people and to control what they do with that property after someone’s death. It can also ensure that one beneficiary doesn’t receive a far more valuable inheritance than the rest of the people included in the estate plan.

Each of these approaches features potential benefits and drawbacks. Someone who needs to address their real estate holdings in a Michigan estate plan may need to think carefully about their family situation and the preferences of their beneficiaries before committing to a particular approach. Those who properly address their most valuable assets can leave a meaningful legacy and potentially limit conflict among their beneficiaries.