When timeshares first came onto the scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the concept seemed pretty great: families got a chance to own part of a property and spend time vacationing there every year without dealing with too many ownership responsibilities. But these days, it’s widely known that timeshares are typically more trouble than they’re worth (literally!). Although a lot of people now understand that buying a timeshare is usually an unwise financial decision, the unfortunate truth is that many families have been taken in by a clever sales pitch and the idea of getting to spend a week in paradise every year.
Many middle-aged and senior Americans still own timeshares, as the average age of timeshare owners in the U.S. is 46.8 years old. And unless these owners take steps to get out of a timeshare contract now, they may end up giving them to their children after they pass on — whether they like it or not. Even though receiving a timeshare inheritance might seem like a nice idea, too many beneficiaries realize too late that they should talked to their parents about how to cancel a timeshare before they passed on. If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, you’ll want to read these timeshare inheritance FAQs.
What happens when a timeshare owner passes away?
Timeshare law can be extremely complex, which is why so many people don’t even know how to get out of timeshare ownership. These contracts are so ironclad that even death will not technically release an owner from their obligations. If an owner is unable to find a new owner to take over their timeshare before they pass away, the timeshare will then become a part of their estate and given to their beneficiaries. The next-of-kin will have to take on the financial obligations of the timeshare, including timeshare maintenance fees, which can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars during the course of a year — and as timeshares depreciate in value, these fees often increase. This means that the children of a timeshare owner could be stuck with a property that’s rapidly dwindling in value that will force them to take on an undue financial burden they never asked for.
Can I (and should I) refuse the timeshare?
The good news is that you do not have to accept an inherited gift. You can refuse, or disclaim, a timeshare. However, you’ll need a good understanding of both timeshare law and estate law to do so — which is why hiring a timeshare lawyer will probably be within your best interests. To refuse a timeshare, you’ll have to write and file what’s called a “Disclaimer of Interest.” This disclaimer must meet certain requirements (which often depend on the timeshare’s location and other factors) and must be received no later than nine months after the death of your parent. To disclaim your timeshare, you must not have received any benefits associated with it (including vacationing there after your parents’ deaths). Again, because estate and timeshare laws are complicated, you’ll want to talk to an estate attorney about proper procedures. As far as whether you should refuse the timeshare, most financial experts would likely agree that the inheritance would represent an unnecessary economic hardship.
Should I talk to my parents about canceling their timeshare now?
The reality is that your parents might not realize that their timeshare could present a financial problem for you once they’ve passed. If they’ve been using their timeshare and are able to keep up with the fees, it may never have even crossed their mind. However, all those fees could end up being an issue for them if their financial situation changes due to medical costs or other circumstances. They also might not know that their children and other relatives have no interest in taking on the property. You should consider talking to them now about canceling their timeshare, as well as the importance of understanding timeshare laws and how they’ll impact their children in the future.
If you need help canceling your timeshare contract, please contact us today.