Timeshare Inheritance Exceptions Explained
Like many legal issues, the answer to this liability issue depends on the specific facts of each situation. For those seeking the most probable overall answer, in many to most cases the timeshare interest is not automatically inheritable, and therefore under most circumstances, no one else besides the now deceased contract holder and possibly their estate, can be legally required to continue to pay for the interest. However, be aware there are exceptions to this general rule and guidelines to be aware of.
Timeshare Inheritance Exceptions
Exceptions include but are not necessarily limited to the following kinds of circumstances:
- The children of timeshare owners are sometimes added to the parents’ timeshare account and occasionally are even placed on the deed (if the timeshare interest is a deeded one), often without the children even being aware that their names have been added. How, you may ask, could a name be added to a deed without the newly added deedholders knowledge? Deeds are documents of conveyance customarily executed by the conveying (transferor) party only, not by the transferee (recipient). Parents will add their children because they (mistakenly, in many instances) feel that the interest is beneficial to their heirs.
- In other circumstances, parents are advised by the resort that the children need to be added so that they can utilize the facilities as co-owners. In these instances, the issue is not the inheritance of an interest but being added pre-inheritance, often without their knowledge.
The best course of conduct for any children of timeshare owners, is to determine whether their names could have been added to their parents’ deeds. The best source of this information beyond the timeshare developers themselves, is the deed registry offices located within the county where the timeshare is physically located. Deeds are filed and recorded by address with the most recently filed deed at the top, so the most recently recorded deed on file should advise as to whether anyone other than the parents are deedholders. Assuming that the potential ‘will beneficiaries’ are not already, inadvertently or not, on the deed, we can next discuss the issue of whether a non-deedholder ‘will beneficiary’ has a risk of inheriting an unwanted timeshare interest.
Timeshare Inheritance Beneficiary Exceptions
Absent the facts suggested above, actually inheriting the timeshare interest as a beneficiary of an estate is not only quite preventable, but in fact it’s unlikely to become a protracted legal issue in any event. To investigate your specific fact situation, if possible, obtain a copy of the will that purports to pass the timeshare interest down to the future estate beneficiaries in question. Although it is possible that the will in issue contains ‘specific bequests’, that is, identifying both the property in question (the timeshare interest) and the specific individual designated to receive the interest via the will, that set of facts is usually not the case. More often the timeshare interest itself is not specifically referenced in the will, but instead passes (if at all) through what is often referred to as the ‘rest, residue, and remainder’ portion of the will, meaning the timeshare interest is lumped in with all other property not specifically identified. Moreover, typically this clause does not reference a specific recipient, but instead references all of the prospective beneficiaries collectively, noting what percentage of the total is being awarded to each. In other words, no specific individual beneficiary is typically earmarked to receive the timeshare interest.
‘Rest, residue and remainder’ clauses in wills are a common occurrence, as it is the personal representative’s job (also sometimes called an executor) to locate and gather up the estate assets, liquidate them, pay the required estate debts and expenses, and distribute the remaining balance to the named beneficiaries. Therefore, typically the timeshare interest is included in this wholesale gathering up of estate assets and not spelled out as a specific bequest. With no named designated recipient, and assuming no estate beneficiary comes forward to request receiving the timeshare interest, it is extremely unlikely that any resort would try to ‘pin’ the interest on a non-named beneficiary. Since an inheritance is essentially akin to a gift, the beneficiary is not legally obliged to accept it. Said beneficiary may exercise their right to say, ‘thanks, but no thank you’, to all or a part of a bequest. One cannot be compelled or forced to accept something someone is trying to give you if one chooses not to accept it. This applies to an inheritance as much as any other attempt to bestow a gift upon another.
Even in the event a designated beneficiary to receive the timeshare interest is named in the will, given that no-one can be required to accept the bequest, even if named, attempting to affix legal liability even to a named beneficiary is tenuous at best. However, in the interest of complete caution, such a named beneficiary should be knowledgeable about the option of filing an Affidavit Disclaiming Interest, a deed-like recordable legal document, executed, witnessed, and notarized, filed in the same deed and instrument registry as the timeshare deed itself. Such a filing should completely and publicly seal the fate of any further attempted legal liability assessment.
This decision to file or not is an individual one, and I have no strong opinion as to the wisdom or necessity of calling further attention to the issue. I invite further questions on this, or other timeshare related topics, to be directed to me.