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Dealing with timeshares in an estate plan

Georgia residents purchase timeshares because they allow them to save money while enjoying designated weeks at their favorite resorts, but selling or disposing of them can be challenging. This is important because most timeshare agreements include what is known as an in perpetuity clause that requires owners to keep paying fees and covering monthly maintenance charges until they die. These fees can be as high as $3,000 per year at luxury resorts, and timeshare owners may also be responsible for paying the costs of correcting code violations and making repairs to the property in question.

Timeshare purchases were once treated in much the same as other types of real estate transactions, but they are now generally sold on a right to use basis and no deed changes hands. This is also how spas and gyms sell memberships. Timeshare purchase agreements spell out who is responsible for paying fees and maintenance charges, and those considering such a purchase would be wise to read them carefully before signing. This is because timeshare salespeople sometimes encourage their clients to add their children to the document. While this could make it easier for children or other relatives to use the property, it could also leave them legally responsible for meeting ongoing monthly costs.

Resorts are sometimes willing to take unwanted timeshares back from elderly owners who no longer use them. They do this because they know that pursuing senior citizens in court may be futile and could damage their reputations. Timeshares can also be included in estate plans.

Attorneys with experience in this area will likely ask their clients what their plans are for a timeshare before making any estate planning recommendations. When the testator and their heirs both plan to continue using the timeshare, attorneys could suggest including the property in a last will and testament. When the parties involved are unsure about how the property will be used in the future, attorneys could suggest protecting heirs by placing the timeshare in a trust.

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