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I purchased a timeshare about 30 years ago. According to the contract,upon my death my heirs are expected to take over this debt. How likely will this happen? What can I do so they will not inherit my debt?

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I would imagine that your answer lies in how the Timeshare contract was written and signed.
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I believe the heirs can refuse to accept it. they did not sign any contract.
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I always thought that a timeshare can transfer to children but I agree...how can they be held responsible for something they never contracted for. You r not responsible for parents debts. My opinion, get rid of it now if children r not willing to takeover.
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The answer to your question is YES. Timeshare companies will go after your heirs. Even is it is paid off, they will still owe the maintainance fees that are due each year. And yes they raise the price of those fees often. You cannot give a timeshare away, it is a true nightmare. We finally found a company to take our timeshare but we had to pay them an arm and leg. So finally we kids will not be burdened with this timeshare. Something that was to be so wonderful turned out to be a horrible nightmare.
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We had a timeshare and finally went to a lawyer who did a quit claim deed to the timeshare owners and they took the timeshare back. No fees from now on. You could do the quit claim deed your self if you can go to the county clerk and know whom to contact at the company that owns the timeshare.
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I don't know why people buy into these time shares, I looked at it and read the fine print and knew it was a rip off to start with. Your best bet is to contact a good attorney, one who specializes in real estate and real estate contracts. My brother-in-law bought into one of these but was able to back out of the deal by selling off his interest in his time share.
Never, never buy into anything that does not have an exit clause.
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Why is no one mentioning to see a real estate attorney in the area of the time share?
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Sorry to hear you're involved in this. We have friends and family who have purchased time shares and all regret it. They are known as one of the worst products out there, and yes, it is common that they are passed down to others. It's a ridiculous scam that I'm surprised hasn't been reined in. I'd quickly try to find one of the companies that helps out get out of them. The financial advisor on the radio, Dave Ramsay, has one he endorses, I'm sure you can find the name on his website. Maybe they can be of help. Also, just thought, I've heard Laura Ingraham on the radio endorsing one, so another to check into. Good luck, hope you can get away from it and not leave a mess for your family. It's smart of you to think of it.
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There are companies that will help you exit the timeshare. Timeshares makes it extremely difficult to drop out of them. You don't have to hang onto it if you don't want to, but getting help with make it easier.
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Thanks for the explanation. With fees accumulating to the presumed market value of the property, this frankly sounds like a well planned scam.

I'm thinking about this a bit more, but I really appreciate your insight. If I hear of anyone interested in this scheme, I'll be sure to warn them. What a racket!

In the long run just renting for a vacation only would be cheaper, and there also wouldn't be the issue of other people's schedules or what kind of mess they might leave. At least with a vacation rental, the property owner/management would be responsible for cleanup.
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What happens typically is that the fees accumulate until they become the same amount as the value of the property and the management firm/owner offer to take back the property for the amount of the lien against it for unpaid fees. The property is not able to be titled into the heirs name when the owner dies as there is a requirement for a new fee structure to be agreed to in order for the property to be transferred. I think the premise with a lot of time shares is that people will eventually quit paying on them and the buyer's equity in the time share will be wiped out with an agreement to take back the property. Honestly, I'm fuzzy on the full legal jargon on what the contract law is, just what the outcome when someone tried to sell the "paid off" equity in the time share property. For two years, she tried to sell the property. For 2 years and 3 different groups she paid over $1500 to list and market property. Time shares might work for some folks, but you are not really getting an equity in property but rather a right to usage of property for a fixed fee for long term. And as my 69 year old friend found out when she and 90 year old mom couldn't utilize the time share any more, the market to repurchase a lot of time shares is nada. Just trying to share an experience to be wary of them and read read read.
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GSA, thanks for the info on the restrictiveness of time shares. I wasn't aware of that. Guess I won't get a time share in Vail! Seriously, I couldn't afford a time share even if I wanted one, and if I did, it would more likely be one in France that attracted me.

So, if I understand, the family would be forced to sell if it doesn't pay the fees. Okay, makes sense. And a judgment would be sought not on the basis of funds owed and not paid, but rather on a contractual basis, i.e., that the original owner guaranteed payment of fees....something like that?

What I'm trying to figure is this: judgments usually are entered on the basis of funds not paid by the individual who agreed contractually to be responsible for them. Heirs are owners through inheritance, so then they would become obligated for the fees?

Unless the original owner guaranteed that successive owners would be obligated (again, the question of obligaing others arises), then nonpayment would be considered a contractual default by the original owner? Or is the default considered to have occurred when the relatives inherit through a will?

I'm still trying to figure out how a judgment could be obtained against people who hadn't agreed to be responsible for a potential debt.

I'm not challenging your advice, just trying to figure out the underlying contractual issues. It's interesting; I've never encountered this so I'm curious.
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I have a friend that just went through the time share nightmare. Unless you have a very popular property that has a waiting list for purchasers, it will be very difficult or (more likely) impossible to sell your interest in it. The maintenance fees for that 1 week are a part of the original purchase contract. GA, if the family doesn't want to assume the responsibility for fees, the condo association has the right to restrict access to anyone not on the original purchase contract and restricted deed and not allow the transfer of the time share to family without signing a new agreement to pay fees. They can also file for a judgment. My friend ended up signing over the time share back to the company that owns it because she could not sell her paid-off time share despite putting it on the market and PAYING a fee to more than 1 of the time share brokers that guarantee that they will sell your property. Time share can work for the life of the person buying if you get a good property and travel/vacation a lot. If you plan to leave the asset to someone else, not so much.
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I don't think any signature of yours on any kind of contract could bind your heirs. If that were true, disgruntled people could bind their spouses or families. People can't be obligated for someone else's debts unless they sign jointly, or are guarantors, to the best of my knowledge.
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The basics is when you buy a timeshare you are essentially purchasing the right to vacation one week every year at a specific timeshare resort where your unit is located or you can switch with another unit owner at another resort for your vacation [there are companies that help do that].

Usually a person will purchase this timeshare in a lump sum [no mortgage] but there will be maintenance fees that are collected by the building owner.

Owning a timeshare is similar to owning a condo, there is a deed. In reality there could be 52 owners for that one condo, each owning one week. Or less owners with the resort owning the remaining weeks to rent out. It's like owning a hotel room that has a kitchen, etc. If an owner dies, the heirs do get the timeshare condo for that set week.

One can sell their condo, either use a Realtor or if possible the resort will buy it back from you.
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I know very little about time shares. I have had friends sell their interest in them to someone else. It seems very strange that the debt or the time share would transfer to beneficiaries. What if they do not want it? I never knew that time shares, in effect, become a family responsibility.
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I assume the debt is the condo fee that everyone pays on a timeshare. Someone has to pay that fee.... passing away doesn't relieve the heirs of that responsibly.

Only other thing to do, if you find you don't use that timeshare or are not switching with other timeshare owners in other locations for vacation, sell the unit if you can.
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I'm not sure how to respond based on so little information, but it seems to me that in general, any asset that is subject to a lien or mortgage will remain encumbered if transferred to another owner. You can't transfer the asset free and clear of the debt, unless you pay the debt off first. That said, I can't imagine that the debt itself could be passed on to your heirs, it would only be passed as a lien upon the asset. Heirs don't become liable for debts unless they inherit property that is subject to the debt.
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