On the day you bought your timeshare, you probably felt sure that you had a good many years left during which to enjoy it. That was probably true. Unfortunately, nobody lives forever, and as time marches on, no one would blame you for wondering: If you were to die tomorrow, what would become of your timeshare?
The answer is simple. If you have a will, your timeshare will go to the person whom you have named as recipient. If you die intestate, on the other hand, the timeshare’s executor will decide upon its proper disposition. In most cases, your closest next of kin will be the lucky legatee, whether that person wants to take charge of it or not.
If the qualifying heir should choose to accept the timeshare, he or she will also acquire the responsibility of keeping up with all payments and maintenance fees. This person may be shocked to learn that although the timeshare’s value will decrease over time, history has shown that its associated costs will continue to rise.
The truth is that most people nowadays would prefer not to inherit a timeshare for which they have no use whatsoever. Fortunately, the law does not require people to accept inherited items that they do not want. If your beneficiary would rather decline the honor, they need do nothing more complicated than file an affidavit to that effect.
When this happens, the timeshare will remain in your estate until the executor is able to:
- Encourage another heir to accept it.
- Sell it to someone else.
- Donate it to charity.
- Dispose of it by some other legal means.
The Timeshare and the Estate’s Executor
Most timeshare contracts contain what is known as a perpetuity clause. This means that unless you succeed in selling, transferring, donating or giving the timeshare away, you are legally bound to continue making payments and covering maintenance fees for as long as you live.
After you die, it’s someone else’s problem. If no one wants the timeshare, it becomes the executor’s responsibility. While the timeshare company cannot go after a beneficiary who chooses not to pay, your estate enjoys no such exemption. For as long as the timeshare resides there, the executor will be responsible for making all payments from the estate’s assets as they come due. If he or she neglects to do so, the timeshare company will continue piling on the late fees.
Some of the estate’s assets are protected by law, but any that are otherwise subject to probate are fair game, and the executor must use them to meet the timeshare obligations. If there are no assets or the executor fails to make the payments, the resort will eventually foreclose on the timeshare.
The Fate of Your Timeshare in Probate
The way in which your timeshare passes to your heirs will vary in accordance with how you hold its title. For example, if you are its sole owner, it will be subject to probate upon your death. If, on the other hand, you and a co-owner hold the timeshare title as tenants by entirety or joint tenants, it will pass upon your death to the owner who still survives. That person will then be the timeshare’s sole owner, and it will be subject to probate after his or her death.
While the probate process proceeds, the timeshare will be in limbo. Unless you have added your heirs to the deed as beneficiaries or placed the timeshare in a revocable trust, they will not be able to use it.
To sidestep the problem entirely, you might want to consider unloading your timeshare while you still hold title to it. If this sounds like something you’d like to pursue, O’Grady Law Group can help. Despite what you may have heard, there are ways to get out of your timeshare contract. This is especially true if it contains any discrepancies or misrepresentations, but a contract can also be nullified if you signed it under duress thanks to the actions of an overly aggressive sales representative.
Remember, diamonds may be forever, but your timeshare contract doesn’t have to be. Although timeshares are notoriously hard to sell, O’Grady Law Group has enjoyed considerable success with getting these contracts cancelled. If you’d rather not own your timeshare when you die, contact our office today and let us help you unload it now.