In the first 10 minutes of a meeting, your client says:

“Now that the kids are grown up, no one goes to our cabin anymore. We used to have so much fun up there!”

At that moment

  • Ask your client where the property is and how long she’s had it.
  • Find out why it’s not being used: Is it too far? Has it been neglected? Or is there some other factor?

Later in the meeting

Once you’ve reviewed your client’s finances, revisit the topic of her cabin. She has two basic options: keep it or get rid of it.

If she wants to keep it:

  • Ask why she wants to hold on to an underused cabin. Maybe she wants to keep it for sentimental reasons or to pass on to her children. Perhaps she doesn’t want to sell it at a loss, or it guarantees an existing loan.
  • If the property is in good shape and relatively close to a major city, she can consider renting it out and hiring someone to manage the rentals. Explain that the income will be taxable, but eligible expenses may be deductible.
  • If she wants to keep the property, show her what it would cost to maintain it for the rest of her life, and how that would fit into her broader financial plan.

If she is ready to sell or gift the cabin:

  • She may be able to claim the principal residence exemption. Go to for instructions to determine whether she is eligible, and a step-by-step guide for claiming the exemption.
  • She can pass or sell the property to her children. Go to for a primer on vacation property succession planning, and learn about tax considerations at