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Dealing with timeshares in estate planning

Timeshares allow Louisiana residents to use their favorite vacation properties for designated weeks each year and can reduce their travel expenses considerably, but selling them can be difficult even in a booming real estate market. Timeshare purchases once included deeds like other real estate transactions, but they are generally sold today on what is known as a right to use basis. This is the same kind of legal arrangement used by gyms and spas to offer memberships. When timeshare owners pass away, their heirs are not usually required to continue making annual maintenance fees.

Some timeshare companies seek to make heirs legally responsible for ongoing fees and maintenance charges by encouraging their customers to add their children and other relatives to the paperwork. Salespeople may tell prospective owners that doing this will make it easier for their loved ones to use the property should they wish to. This should be avoided as it could make heirs responsible for needed repairs as well as ongoing monthly expenses. Many elderly timeshare owners simply return their units when they can no longer use them as resorts rarely take these cases to court.

Possible legal entanglements may also be avoided by ensuring that timeshare maintenance and fee payments are only made from the owner's account. This can be a thorny issue because timeshare agreements generally have clauses that require fees to be paid for life.

Attorneys with will planning experience could suggest including timeshares in a will if a deed is involved and heirs wish to continue using the property. When heirs have no such interest, attorneys could suggest placing timeshares in trusts. When neither testators northeir heirs have any interest in keeping a timeshare, attorneys may suggest contacting the resort involved to discuss surrendering the property.

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