You may not have imagined in a million years that your timeshare would end up being a burden to your children. But as you’ve gotten older, you’ve started to worry that they’ll be left responsible for the contract, bound by the same rules as you’ve been for all these years. If the idea of your children being forced to pay for an unwanted inheritance that becomes increasingly expensive every year, it’s time to get some clarity about your rights when it comes to leaving timeshare debt to your successors.
The first thing you need to know is that no timeshare contract can legally exceed a 50 year duration period. If your contract states an end date anywhere in excess of 50 years from the date it began then it is illegal and can thus be legally nullified, possibly with the prospect of compensation. Even if your timeshare obligation is 50 years exactly, that would still mean that you would have had to sign it in the late 1960s. Very few people have had timeshares for that amount of time. Most will not come to an end until somewhere between 2030 and 2050. That’s a long time.
So, assuming your timeshare is within its legal duration limit, what can you do to prevent timeshare inheritance?
Deeded timeshare is treated as personal property, and so will form part of the deceased person’s estate. It can then be inherited by a beneficiary, providing that beneficiary accepts the gift of the inheritance. Should it not be accepted, there is no liability. It goes without saying, however, that passing up the burden of the contract means the beneficiary cannot then use the timeshare!
Contractual timeshare is a bit more complicated. In the case of most contractual obligations, these will not necessarily terminate on death. This is a matter, therefore, that must be brought to Court in order to be resolved. A Court will be looking to ascertain whether the contract is what is known as a ‘personal contract’, in which case it will be subject to a condition whereby the contract terminates on death.
If this cannot be established, the contract does then pass to the deceased’s relatives. However, a new contract would be required in order for the beneficiary to take up the responsibility of the timeshare. Basically, the timeshare contract cannot continue in the deceased’s name; it must be reissued for the beneficiary. As such, there’s no real obligation to sign.
Under UK law, nobody can be forced to accept a gift left to them, whether the gift is deliberately given by the deceased via their will, or by default where the contract holder dies intestate (without a will).
That’s not to say that a timeshare company will not try to enforce inheritance in order to keep the contract going. Should this occur, the issue will have to be taken to Court under legal representation to push back against this move by the timeshare company.
By law, nobody can be forced to pay the debts of their forebears without putting their signature to paper. If, however, you sign the dotted line, then the timeshare becomes yours, as well as all the burdens around it.
A note to inheritors. If you find yourself presented with the opportunity of accepting a timeshare contract bequeathed to you or by default upon the death of the contract holder, think carefully. If you do not want the timeshare obligations to pass to you, be sure not to use the timeshare yourself in the interim after death and before the estate is set to be distributed, as this may be used against you should you decide not to continue with the contract.