Ask RedWeek / June, 2019

Our kids don't want our timeshare. What should we do?

My husband and I are getting older and starting to get serious about estate planning. We asked our kids if they wanted our timeshare, but they would rather not inherit it or the responsibility for paying ongoing maintenance fees. What can we do to ensure they don't receive this unwanted inheritance?

Great question! Even after so many memorable family vacations, there's no guarantee your children will want to inherit your timeshare. Lifestyles change over generations, and a timeshare may not fit your children's way of vacationing.

In the best situation, the decision of timeshare inheritance is made at the time of purchase and written into the contract. Timeshare agreements usually contain a "perpetuity clause," saying that the timeshare is valid for the lifespan of the original owner. When the owner dies, the timeshare becomes part of the estate. The inheritors of the timeshare become the new owners, and they are obligated to take over the timeshare fees.

If you want to avoid this issue, name your heirs co-trustees of your timeshare. A trust gives heirs the option to decide to keep the timeshare, sell it, or abandon it. It frees them of ongoing or unpaid fees.

You also can leave your kids off the timeshare deed entirely. This way, you avoid the additional costs of setting up a trust. It's important to tell your children that if they ever become your financial custodian, they should pay the timeshare maintenance fees with your bank account, not theirs.

Okay, maybe you didn't do all that upfront. If you named your kids as inheritors of your timeshare, or they are set to inherit it by default, there's still a way out for them. They can file a written refusal to accept the timeshare called a Disclaimer of Interest. Generally, a letter or statement is used to let all interested parties know that the heirs have no interest in the timeshare.

Specific timeframe requirements exist for submitting the disclaimer. So, tell your kids to check with your state laws. The disclaimer should be filed with the probate court handling your estate. An estate attorney can help your kids with the paperwork.

Alternatively, if you aren't using it anymore, you can start the process of selling your timeshare now, or gifting it to someone who does want it. This will be one less thing to worry about later.

We would love to hear from anyone who has inherited a timeshare (or avoided inheriting one). If you have experience to share, please leave a comment below.

4 Comments

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  • Avatar for daveg297
    daveg297
    Jun 11, 2019 (9 months ago)

    What a horrible mess it was for me to get rid of a timeshare my parents bought in Branson Mo. It cost me more in attorneys fees than the place was even worth. All I can say is don't buy one! I had to hire an attorney in the state of Mo. to go through probate to deed back the property to the timeshare company. It is a waste of money on all counts and I would rather choose my place to vacation whenever I want to, not be chained down to one certain week a year at the same place!

  • Avatar for jamieh264
    jamieh264
    Jun 15, 2019 (9 months ago)

    I put it in my Will to give it to my ex-husband. LOL Or, if he dies before to - to return it to the resort. I'm hoping this will keep it out of my son's life.

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  • Avatar for ava1
    ava1
    Jul 13, 2019 (8 months ago)

    My brother and his wife in VA both died suddenly and they owned a timeshare in NC which my nephew tried to disinherit by way of a letter. The timeshare resort said it couldn’t be done in NC and refused to take it back saying they would file a judgment against the estate. He had to get a lawyer and also file probate in NC which cost a couple of thousand to finally deed it back to the resort. What a mess.

  • Avatar for davidr856
    davidr856
    Feb 11, 2020 (1 month ago) • Updated Feb 11, 2020 08:18 AM

    If the timeshare is in the parents name and not in a Trust or Will, by default it is part of the estate. Normally the best approach is to notify the resort of the passing of the owners when the maintenance fee is received and do not provide any additional information. It is then up to the resort to determine if they want to chase for the maintenance fee. Sadly too many 'estate' attorneys ask about other property or assets and place the timeshare into the into the Trust or Will. The best thing is to leave them out and let resort to figure out what to do unless somebody, that is anyone, wishes to continue utilizing the timeshare. The primary reason for a Trust versus a Will is it reduces the chance of probate court where the timeshare resort can place a claim. Most timeshare agreements have a limited time frame of x years for ownership and define the process to return the unit to the resort. Also remember the timeshare agreement is not a mortgage, so there is no payoff of a debt and the maintenance fee is just that, a fee. If you look at the agreement, there usually is a clause that states if maintenance fee is not paid, you cannot use the timeshare. As for the people stating large attorney fee's not sure I understand, as property transfer stated in a will or trust is not automatic until any outstanding balances be it mortgage or fee is paid.