Do I have to Die to get out of my Timeshare?
Yes and No! Dying does relieve you personally from having to ever pay another penny for your Timeshare or another maintenance fee. However, your heirs may not appreciate the fact that your estate remains liable for these sorts of contractual obligations and it may affect the legacy that you leave to the next generation.
It seemed like such a good idea when you were younger. Maybe you always hoped a child would appreciate receiving the Timeshare as part of their inheritance. But if you do not have the luxury of dying any time soon, or dying financially (filing bankruptcy), and want to find another way to get out of the Timeshare there is hope.
Suggestion 1: contact the Timeshare Association and ask them to take a deed from you in exchange for letting you out of the obligation. They will say no. Offer to prepay a year of maintenance fees. Stop paying maintenance fees, get a year behind and offer to pay two years all at once and perhaps they will reconsider. Many low level Timeshare employees are trained to treat you like drugs: “Just say no.” But asking for a supervisor and having a genuine sounding hardship story may help. The most difficult decision to make is whether to give them all your financial and tax return information to prove your hardship. A tough year financially may help gain approval for the deed back to the Association or it may provide a road map for suing and collecting from you if you stop paying permanently.
Suggestion 2: another remedy that has been around for a few years is to donate the Timeshare to your favorite Charity. You get a deduction (check with your CPA! The new Tax Law enacted in December of 2017 does change deduction rules). The Charity gets an asset they may use to bless some donor, volunteer of the year, or under-compensated leader. They have to pay the maintenance fees but can often cover those and make a few dollars auctioning the Week in a Silent Auction in a fundraiser. Historically, Timeshares tolerated these conveyances but may reserve the right to hold you liable for maintenance fees if the charity defaulted. Also, the Associations that manage the Timeshares are coming up with ever increasing “transfer fees” and other charges. Someone has to pay those fees and many Charities which historically accepted Timeshare donations have discontinued receiving them.
Suggestion 3: Convey the Timeshare to a dummy corporation, preferably one with no other assets and preferably a corporation with a creative name in Latin that tells the Timeshare association what you really think of them. In the case of an elderly owner not wanting the estate to inherit the maintenance fees and other obligations, the heirs never agreed to take personal responsibility and are therefore much less likely to lose if your estate is sued. The dummy corporation can be sued and lose and pay all it owns (nothing) and that is usually a successful way of cutting off the obligation from the heirs and discouraging the Timeshare from paying the legal fees to sue anyone.
Finally, just realize that getting out of the Contract of the Timeshare is going to cost you something. Either you invest your own valuable time in being “the squeaky wheel” so that you “outlast them” and they make a fair deal with you, or your hire a lawyer that specializes in finding flaws in Timeshare documents. One such lawyer has written an excellent article about things you can look for in the way of “failure to perform” by the Timeshare management companies that may allow you to break the contract with them.
Good luck and never lose hope!