Sidney and Elisabeth Garvais had a lifetime of memories tied up in their second home, a small cottage on 4 ½ acres on Block Island, R.I. They paid around $20,000 for it in 1965, and used it for summer vacations and to entertain guests on weekends. Of course, it also turned out to be one of their best investments.
But when it came time to move on about three years ago -- "the upkeep became too much; there was always brush to clear, stone walls to rebuild," Mr. Garvais explained -- there was no one to pass the property along to. (Simply cashing out would mean a sizable capital-gains tax.)