A timeshare can seem like a good idea at the time you bought it. Some people even enjoy their timeshares and are happy that they bought them. But when a loved one dies and you inherit one, it might not seem like such a blessing: fees can be high, there may be a mortgage, and it may not suit your vacation preference. That can leave you wondering how to get rid of your parents’ timeshare.
You are not required to inherit that timeshare. If you don’t want it there are things you will need to do and things you should not do.
Will My Parent’s Timeshare Pass to Me?
What happens to a timeshare when the owner dies? That depends on the type of timeshare. Some timeshares involve a specific lease term and will revert to the resort on the death of the leaseholder. Many have contracts with perpetuity clauses. These obligations may be passed on to timeshare owners’ heirs.
If your parents placed your name on the timeshare deed, you will automatically inherit the timeshare. If they place another party’s name on the deed, that person inherits, and you’re off the hook. If only your parents are named in the deed the timeshare will become part of your parent’s estate. What happens next will be determined in the probate process.
There are ways to avoid inheriting something you don’t want. The timeshare resort won’t tell you how to do it, so you’ll need to do your own research to learn what you need to do.
Financial Responsibility For the Timeshare
Timeshare ownership is a burden. Annual maintenance fees average close to $1000 a year and may reach up to $3000. You may be required to pay special assessments for needed maintenance and repair. The timeshare may still have a mortgage attached to it. This is a lot to handle, and you may not even want the vacation time: your parents’ preference in vacations may not be yours.
When a timeshare owner dies, the timeshare becomes part of the owner’s estate. Until the probate process is complete, the responsibility for paying maintenance fees and mortgage installments lies with the executor of the estate.
If you inherit the timeshare you will be responsible for the associated fees and any remaining mortgage payments. If you fail to pay them they will be reported to the credit bureaus as late payments and penalty fees will be applied. Eventually, the timeshare company will probably start foreclosure proceedings, damaging your credit even more.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the process of assessing and distributing the assets of a deceased person. If the deceased individual left a will, it will name an executor. If there is no will or if the will is invalid an executor will be named by the probate court.
The probate court will determine whether the will is valid. The court and the executor will work together to assure the deceased person’s debts and taxes. The remaining property will be distributed according to the deceased person’s will. If there is no will the asset distribution will be governed by state probate laws.
How To Legally Refuse Your Timeshare Inheritance
You cannot be compelled to accept an inheritance you don’t want. There are some legal pitfalls, however, and there are some things you’ll need to do and avoid doing. Some features will vary with state law, and the applicable law may be the state in which the timeshare is located.
Here are some important steps to take.
You will usually have nine months after your parents’ death to complete this process. The process itself will take time, so the sooner you start, the better. The time frame may vary depending on applicable state laws.
Minor heirs will have nine months from their 21st birthdays to complete the process.
Review the Contract
Timeshare contracts are different. There may be provisions in your parents’ contract that apply to your situation. The executor of your loved one’s estate should have a copy of the contract. Look it over and seek the advice of the executor and your own attorney. Inform the executor that you do not want to inherit the timeshare.
Notify the Resort
If the executor has not already done so, notify the timeshare resort that the owner is deceased. You may be asked to provide a death certificate. If there is a mortgage on the property the lender will also have to be notified.
The resort representative that you speak to may try to persuade you to retain the timeshare or even upgrade it. Timeshare resorts will turn any occasion into a sales opportunity. Don’t fall for it. Report the death and end the conversation.
Do Not Use the Timeshare
Do not use the timeshare or even visit it. If a resort representative encourages you to try the timeshare out to see if you want to keep it, refuse. Do not rent it or list it for rental. If you gain any value from the timeshare at all you may be compelled to keep it.
Don’t Make Payments from Your Own Account
Keep any fees and mortgage payments up to date during the probate process, but do not make any payments from your account or your credit card. All payments must be made by the estate. Consult with the executor if necessary.
File a Disclaimer of Interest
A disclaimer of interest is a legal document that states that you do not wish to accept an inheritance. It must meet legal requirements and it must contain certain elements.
- A description of the property. This should be part of the timeshare contract and will be available from the estate’s executor.
- A statement of your renunciation of the property. Be sure that you state the extent of your renunciation, which is forever.
- Your name and signature. This is an essential part of any legal document.
This document should be prepared by an attorney. If you prepare it yourself, have an attorney review it before you file it.
File the Disclaimer of Interest in Probate Court
File a copy of your Disclaimer of Interest with the probate court that is handling the estate. Check the applicable state laws for any restrictions on the time frame for filing this document.
Consult With Other Heirs
Your disclaimer of interest will only apply to you. The unwanted inheritance may pass to other family members or heirs. Every heir must file their own Disclaimer of Interest to avoid inheriting the timeshare.
What Will Happen to the Timeshare?
During the probate process, the estate will be responsible for fees and mortgage payments. If all heirs disclaim interest any existing mortgage debt or fee arrears will be paid by the estate, which could reduce the inheritance. At the close of probate, the timeshare will revert to the resort. If you have filed a Disclaimer of Interest your credit should not be affected.
How to Get Rid of a Timeshare You’ve Already Inherited
If you’ve already inherited a timeshare the situation is more complex. Getting rid of a timeshare can be a real struggle. Here’s what you can do.
Watch for Scams
Lots of people are desperate to get out of timeshare contracts, and that has generated a whole industry around timeshare scams. Some companies will promise to sell or rent your timeshare, often at very unrealistic prices, if you list with them and pay a large upfront fee. Others promise to get you out of your contract completely, which may also involve a large upfront fee.
Always be aware of timeshare scams. Do careful research and examine alternatives before committing to any company. Always look for companies that offer an escrow option that allows you to get your money back if the company fails to deliver.
Sell or Rent the Property
Try to find a new owner. There is an active resale market for timeshare. Sale prices are often a small fraction of the original cost, but that’s less a concern if you inherited the timeshare. You may also be able to rent the property out, which can defray costs during years when you choose not to use the timeshare. It can sometimes be a bit of a hassle, but will usually get you enough to cover your annual fees.
Websites like Timeshare User’s Group and Redweek have active sales and rental listings. You can also try sites like Craigslist or eBay. These are good places to get a sense of what your timeshare is worth and are also good listing options. Many resorts have rental programs. Beware of websites promising to sell or rent your timeshare for an attractive amount but demanding a high listing fee!
Many resorts do not allow sales without their approval. Some may stipulate that if the buyer fails to pay fees or make mortgage payments, they can still come after you for the deficiencies. Check your contract to be sure, and consult a lawyer if you aren’t sure.
Ask the Resort About a Deedback Program
Talk to the management company. Some resorts, notable Wyndham and Marriott, have their own exit programs, which allow you to return the timeshare to the resort. These programs may not be publicized and you may have to do some online searches and ask questions to determine whether your resort has such a program.
Call the resort and ask to speak to whoever handles deedbacks or returns. Be persistent, and do not allow yourself to get diverted to a sales pitch.
Give it Away
You may be able to find a friend, relative, or stranger who wants the timeshare. You won’t get anything for it, but you won’t be on the hook for the fees. Listing sites often include timeshares that are offered for free but remember to check your contract for stipulations that hold you responsible if the recipient fails to make payments. And be sure to consult a law firm to make sure everything is in order. If the paperwork isn’t in order and the new owner defaults on the annual maintenance fees, you could end up on the hook.
Hire a Timeshare Exit Company
Timeshare exit companies act as advocates, trying to persuade or compel timeshare owners to release owners from their contracts. This is usually only possible if the timeshare was sold using deception, misrepresentation, or manipulation in the sales process.
Many timeshare exit companies make promises they can’t keep and charge large sums with little assurance of success. Some are outright scammers. Do your research carefully and consider all alternatives. Start with this list of the best timeshare exit companies.
Is timeshare ownership ever a good idea? Watch this to learn more:
The Bottom Line
Most of us think of an inheritance as something positive, but a timeshare can be a liability. Fees are high and you may not even want to use the property. If your deceased parents owned a timeshare that you don’t want, you should act immediately to make sure it does not become your problem. You can get rid of your parents’ timeshare, but you can also get stuck with it. It’s up to you to take the steps to ensure that you don’t!
What happens to a timeshare when you die depends on the type of timeshare you own and the specific stipulations of your contract. Many timeshares have contracts “in perpetuity.” In these cases, the timeshare becomes part of your estate and may be passed to your heirs, unless they take specific action to prevent that.
A deeded ownership timeshare is considered real property and can be sold, rented, willed, and inherited. Unlike most forms of real estate, timeshares do not appreciate in value and are often worth only a small fraction of their original cost.
Most timeshare exit companies do not disclose costs. They state that the cost will depend on your timeshare contract and the demands of your specific case, but in reality, many will charge whatever they think you can or will pay. If a timeshare exit wants personal financial information before quoting a price, beware. Exit company reviews indicate typical costs from $3,000 to $5,000, but some people pay much more.
When you buy a timeshare you are buying the right to use a property or one of a group of properties for a fixed amount of time each year. There are several types of timeshares and contract terms may vary widely, but many contracts exist “in perpetuity”, making exit very difficult. Timeshare sales staff are often aggressive and omit critical information. You will pay annual fees, these fees may rise, and you may have to pay special assessments. Financing is often at disadvantageous rates and it may be difficult to get the weeks that you want. Be careful if you’re considering a timeshare. Never buy during a sales presentation. Always take your time, do your research, and consider alternatives.