How Do I Inherit a Timeshare?

By Michelle Hart

Many people may be excited to learn that they inherited a timeshare. However, they may not realize that timeshares often present significant financial liabilities to their owners. Those who stand to inherit a timeshare should take the time to discuss timeshare rights and responsibilities with the original owner, and convey their wishes for disposition of the timeshare ownership in the event of the owner's death.

Timeshare Basics

A timeshare is an extended vacation rental program that entitles the purchaser, often referred to as a timeshare "owner," to stay at a vacation property for a specified time each year. Condominium and hotel developments are the most common types of properties included in timeshare rentals, but accommodations may be in homes, campgrounds, RV parks or live-aboard boats. In addition to up-front fees required to establish timeshare ownership, purchasers are contractually obligated to pay maintenance, property management and other listed fees for the duration of the contract term.

Inheriting a Timeshare

Many timeshare contracts include a clause that automatically transfers the timeshare to the original purchaser's children after his death. Others may include a clause designating a specific beneficiary as having rights to the timeshare property after the purchaser's death. Finally, a timeshare property may be transferred to an heir through the owner's will. In community or marital property states where no will naming an alternate beneficiary exists, the surviving spouse would usually be entitled to ownership of the timeshare, even if she did not sign the original timeshare contract.

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Accepting a Timeshare Inheritance

If the timeshare contract includes a clause that automatically transfers the timeshare to you, accepting ownership of your timeshare inheritance may be as simple as contacting the timeshare property to provide management with a copy of the original owner's death certificate and your contact and billing information. If you inherit a timeshare through a will, you will need to wait until a probate judge approves all estate administration documents before you can accept the timeshare as your own. Be aware that while accepting a timeshare inheritance entitles you to all of the rights associated with timeshare ownership, it also means you agree to take responsibility for all of the financial obligations arising from that ownership.

Refusing a Timeshare Inheritance

Regardless of how you inherit a timeshare, you are not required to accept it. To refuse a timeshare inheritance, you must send a document called a "disclaimer of interest," along with a copy of the original owner's death certificate, to the timeshare property within a specific time frame -- usually nine months after the original owner's death. If you intend to refuse the timeshare inheritance, you must not take advantage of any timeshare privileges because this may cause you to forfeit your right to refuse the inheritance.

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