Ask anyone who ever purchased a timeshare and changed their mind about it. Getting rid of a timeshare can be problematic. However, imagine if your parents purchased a timeshare and left it to you, with all the financial obligations? Can you be forced to inherit a timeshare? That is a question increasingly posed to Beck & Lenox Estate Planning & Elder Law. Some timeshare companies are now trying to make people continue to pay after they have died, warns a cautionary article “How to Avoid Inheriting a TImeshare You Don’t Want” from KSL-TV
One woman’s parents loved their timeshare. They travelled to one for skiing, another to relax in the sun, and others according to availability and their travel plans. The entire family went on trips and all enjoyed the flexibility. However, when both parents passed away just a few months apart, the timeshare company started sending letters demanding payment. The siblings didn’t want any part of it.
There had not been any discussions with their parents about what would happen to the timeshare. One of the daughters decided to put the monthly fee onto her credit card to be paid automatically, thinking this would be a short-term issue. When the timeshare company did not respond to the children’s attempt to contact the company to shut down the account, she had the automatic payments stopped. A collection notice showed up and demanded payment immediately.
However, is the family legally obligated to pay for the parental timeshare?
If you die owning a timeshare, it does become part of your estate and obligations are indeed passed onto the next-of-kin or the estate’s beneficiaries. Can you be forced to inherit the timeshare? Legally no, they do not have to accept it, in the same way that anyone has the right to refuse any part of an inheritance. No one is legally obligated to accept something just because it was bequeathed to them. This is known as the right to disclaim, but it’s not automatic.
A local estate planning attorney will know how your state governs the right to disclaim. Generally speaking, a disclaimer of interest must be filed with the probate court, stating that you reject the timeshare. There are time limits–in some states, you have only nine months after the death of a loved one to file.
When the next-of-kin rejects the timeshare, it may go to the next heir, and the next, and the next, etc. Every family member must file their own disclaimer. If the timeshare is disclaimed by all heirs, it is likely that the timeshare company will foreclose on the timeshare. There may be leftover debts for unpaid fees, and the estate may have to fork over those payments.
A few tips: if you are planning on refusing a timeshare, you cannot use it. Don’t try it out, let a friend use it or go one last time. If you wish to disclaim something, you cannot receive any benefit of the thing you are disclaiming. Once you receive a benefit, the opportunity to disclaim it is gone.
Unwanted timeshares usually sell for far less than the original purchase price. Selling a timeshare involves a market loaded with scammers who promise a quick sale, while charging thousands of dollars upfront. If possible, speak with your parents and their estate planning attorney to head the problem off in advance. Beck & Lenox is available to help if your parents need an attorney.
Reference: KSL-TV (Jan. 25, 2021) “How to Avoid Inheriting a TImeshare You Don’t Want”