What Happens To Timeshares In Probate?
If you have a timeshare, you may be considering leaving it to others in your will, trust or estate documents. But before you do that, you may have to give it some thought—because unlike other assets, a lot of people may not even want your timeshare.
Who Wants a Timeshare?
Timeshares are personal decisions. The people you leave your timeshare to, may not have the time to use it. They may not have the money to maintain it, or to pay the dues that become owed on it. They may not enjoy the particular geographic region where your timeshare is located.
Do not think that because the timeshare owner has passed away, that the estate can just walk away from the timeshare. Many timeshare contracts do not terminate upon the owner’s death. This can make them an obligation of the estate, or an obligation for whomever you leave the timeshare to.
Going Through Probate
Timeshares almost always have to go through the probate process, to transfer ownership of the timeshare to whomever is designated to get it. For bigger or longer probate cases, this can be problematic, because the costs and fees on the timeshare must be paid, but until title is officially transferred by the probate court, you cannot rent the timeshare or use it.
You can, before death, transfer the timeshare into a trust, or even gift it to someone, to avoid the probate process altogether. This way, the new owners can use or rent the timeshare almost immediately.
Although a financial expense, many timeshares do have value to them, and as an asset of the estate, creditors can make claims on them.
If the beneficiaries do want the timeshare, but are uncertain how they will pay for it, your estate plan can include payments that are held in trust, and designated solely for the payment of fees and costs related to the timeshare.
Getting Rid of the Timeshare
If a beneficiary doesn’t want the timeshare, the beneficiary can abandon it. They do this by filing the proper notice in the probate court. If properly abandoned, the probate court will often order the timeshare sold—however, most timeshares don’t have a significant value to them, so the estate won’t see a lot of income from that sale.
In some cases, the timeshare company may offer to buy back the timeshare, or the timeshare contract may have a provision allowing them rights of first refusal to buy back the timeshare. But even if this is the case, the transfer or buy-back would have to be approved by the probate court, unless the timeshare was previously placed in a trust or life estate or some other vehicle that avoids the probate process completely.
Call the West Palm Beach probate lawyers at The Law Offices of Larry E. Bray today for help understanding what will happen to your estate or assets, in the probate process.