Should You Leave Your Timeshare in Your Trust?
Timeshare in a trust. Do you own a timeshare? Over the past few decades owning a timeshare has become a popular investment. Whether you purchased it as a vehicle for a great family vacation, an occasional getaway, or to rent out, you have likely come to understand the benefit your property offers. Flexibility in scheduling timeshare weeks, diverse vacation property locations, and many other perks. Did you also know that timeshares could be highly valuable and desirable property in your estate?
Before considering whether to put your timeshare in your will or trust, here are a few questions you may have:
- Should you transfer ownership of your timeshare to your trust?
- Is it better if I continue to hold it in my individual name, or jointly with another family member?
- What if I don’t use it very often and no one else in the family wants to use it?
Reasons Why You Might Put Your Timeshare in a Trust.
The decision to title your timeshare in the name of your trust or in your name as an individual is a personal choice. That choice should be based the specific facts of your situation. It’s to your advantage to ask questions and carefully read your timeshare contract. Being armed with appropriate information can help you avoid costly mistakes.
If your timeshare provides you with significant value, then it might be beneficial to put it in your revocable living trust. If you purchased the timeshare before your trust was created, you may want to consider retitling the contract. Depending on the terms of the contract and the state where the contract was entered, you be be considered an owner of real estate. This is important because if you die owning real property and that property is not in a probate avoidance tool e.g., a living trust, it will need to go through probate when you die. Trusts, joint ownership with rights of survivorship, and payable on death or transfer on death designations are examples of probate avoidance tools. If your real property is not in a probate avoidance vehicle, the cost of probate will be both financial and emotional.
Ideally, you should ask about the requirements for transfer at the time of purchase. If that moment has passed, you should research the necessary steps now. Start by reading your contract. If you find the contract difficult to understand, contact the management company. Make sure you determine the cost of transferring your timeshare from your individual name to the name of your trust. Some companies charge exorbitant fees. Be aware. Whatever you do, don’t put off taking action.
Reasons for Not Including Your Timeshare in a Trust.
One of the main reasons timeshare owners choose not to include their timeshare property in a trust is nonuse. Work commitments, health reasons, and unforeseeable family issues make it disadvantageous to make use of the property. Whatever the reason, if an owner cannot use the timeshare, it might be wise to sell it before they pass away. Selling the property would eliminate the cost of retitling the property into the trust. This would also obviate the need to pay annual maintenance fees and assessment costs. It’s estimated that timeshare maintenance fees, insurance, and special assessments can easily run into the thousands annually. When you aren’t using the property, such added costs become a burdensome expense, with no benefit.
When your trust owns the timeshare, your beneficiaries inherit the costs. If none of your beneficiaries want the timeshare, the responsibility falls on your trustee to sell it. That becomes problematic in a climate where timeshares are hard to sell. Today’s environment offers a limited market for timeshares. Statistics show that very few timeshare owners can recoup anything remotely resembling their original purchase price. In fact, they usually recover a fraction of their investment.
If you own your timeshare in your individual capacity, that might also be a problem for your heirs and the timeshare company. If your heirs do not want the timeshare, the management company would likely be forced to initiate a probate proceeding. That might be the only way the company could receive any unpaid maintenance fees and assessments.
Understanding your rights regarding the use, termination, and transfer of your timeshare begins with the terms of the agreement. Now might be a good time to find your timeshare contract and read it. You’ll find out whether the contract terminates at the death of the owner. If the trust owns a timeshare, the death provision wouldn’t apply upon the owner’s death. That is because a trust cannot die until all distributions have been made. Until then, the trust would be obligated to pay all fees and costs.
There are significant benefits to owning a timeshare, so long as the owner makes regular use. Then it becomes a valuable and useful asset. If there are family members willing to continue enjoying the timeshare, it can enhance the lives of future generations. In that case, it might be wise to title ownership in the name of the trust. It’s just when ownership becomes more of a liability than a benefit that it is time to rethink ownership. Review your agreement perhaps with the help of an attorney to decide if ownership in the trust is a smart idea. Each situation is different and timeshare contracts vary in terms and obligations.
Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker
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