Summary: What happens to a timeshare when the owner dies? Depending on how the property deed is titled, the timeshare could pass to the co-owners or to the owner’s heirs and beneficiaries.
A timeshare property offers a unique opportunity: guaranteed access to a desirable location without the hassle of having to fully purchase or maintain it. While the timeshare owner is free to enjoy their favorite vacation spot, what happens to that property interest when he or she passes away?
Most timeshare contracts contain a perpetuity clause. Generally, this clause stipulates that the owner of the timeshare is required to pay the associated costs and fees for his or her lifespan. When the original timeshare owner dies, their obligations are passed to the next owner. That could be the co-owner (if there is one), or the owner’s estate beneficiaries.
The way the timeshare passes to the next person(s) all depends on how the property is titled. Often, a person will purchase a timeshare along with their spouse, friends, or other family members. In this situation, if there are multiple names on the property title, the timeshare automatically passes to the surviving co-owner(s). (For more on Georgia property law and Joint Ownership with Rights of Survivorship, click here). Alternatively, if only one person owns a timeshare, when he or she passes away, that interest in the timeshare becomes part of their estate and will likely be subject to the probate process. (To avoid probate, the timeshare owner can consider adding their child or beneficiaries to the timeshare deed, or placing the timeshare in a trust).
When the owner of a timeshare passes away, his or her estate and heirs are responsible for paying the timeshare maintenance fees and other associated costs. A timeshare is like a mortgage in that the payments continue even after the property owner dies. During the probate process, the estate executor will be responsible for making sure any timeshare maintenance fees are paid. After the probate process is completed, those obligations pass to the person(s) who inherited the interest in the timeshare property.
While timeshares do pass to the owner’s heirs or beneficiaries, that does not mean that those heirs or beneficiaries will be forced to accept them. Many timeshare companies permit heirs/beneficiaries to decline ownership in a timeshare by completing a written disclaimer. It is a good idea to have an attorney review this disclaimer document to check for any state-based discrepancies. Georgia law also allows beneficiaries to renounce any property that is being transferred to them. The renunciation has to be in writing, be within nine months of the transfer, and meet certain other criteria. Anyone receiving a timeshare should consider whether to accept the fees and responsibilities associated with it and consult an attorney if there are any questions.
If you have any additional questions about the probate process or including a timeshare ownership in estate planning, you can contact Atlanta estate planning and probate law firm Siedentopf Law at (404) 736-6066 or Sarah@EstateLawAtlanta.com.
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