FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – March 20, 2015 – Question: I am in the process of buying a vacation home with my sister. One of my friends relayed some horror stories about this type of arrangement, and I was wondering what we could do to make sure this does not turn into a problem between us? – Matt

Answer: You should address several major issues before jumping into this. Decide how you take title to the property and whether your sister gets your half if you pass away or if it should go to someone else.

Also, if either of you has problems with creditors or the potential to be sued because of your jobs, you can set up the ownership form to account for this.

Sit down with your sister and decide on how you each will use the property and who will be responsible for maintenance and upgrade costs. Prepare a written agreement setting out who gets to use the property when and how to resolve a conflict in the event you both want to use it at the same time. Also decide how you will split the maintenance responsibilities and other costs of ownership, such as taxes and special assessments.

Major expenses such as a new roof or replacement furniture should also be discussed and decided on now. Finally, determine under what conditions the property would be sold and the procedure for figuring out what happens when one of you wants out and the other does not.

By thinking of solutions to these potential problems now, you can avoid hurt feelings, a lot of aggravation and a soured relationship.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program.

The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Copyright © 2015 Sun Sentinel, Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.