Losing a loved one is one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. Here is a quick guide from European Consumer Claims (ECC) on how to avoid being saddled with a costly, restrictive and outdated US holiday membership while dealing with your grief.
Good idea at the time
Timeshare memberships were once a superior way to holiday. They were a guarantee of quality, and luxury that was not available to non members. Timeshare had its heyday in the 1990s, before the rest of the travel industry evolved to catch up. Today, non members can stay in previously exclusive timeshare resorts through Booking.com, and user generated reviews mean that consumers can easily judge the quality of accommodation in advance.
Many timeshare owners thought that they were making decision to improve not only their own holidays, but would be able to give a generous gift to their heirs. The offspring however are usually less than enthusiastic. Many people would rather not inherit what is generally accepted to be an outdated, inflexible and expensive way of holidaying.
Can it be avoided?
Thankfully, yes. The laws in every state vary a little, so a google search of your state name plus “renunciation of property” will give more accuracy. In general the following are the important steps:
- Act swiftly. In most states you have 9 months from the time you inherit to renounce the property (check possible variations in your state) or if you are under 21, you have 9 months from your 21st birthday. Please note: It is important that you don’t use or profit from the timeshare in any way before refusing it, or you will not be able to do so.
- Draw up a document of renunciation. The document should include: 1) a description of the property. The estate executor will have this if you don’t. 2) your statement declaring that you refuse the property and the timescale of your renunciation (forever). 3) your name, signature and the date
- Make 4 copies of the document. Keep one for yourself. Send one by certified post to the executor of the estate, and send one (also by certified post) to the timeshare company. Lastly, file a copy of the document in the probate court that is handling the estate that willed you the timeshare. This is your proof if it is ever required that you renounced the timeshare
Andrew Cooper, CEO of ECC advises: “Refusing a timeshare can be done, provided you act within the timeframe allowed by law. However it may be easier to tell the owner while they are alive that you would prefer not to be left the membership in a will. Your loved one will usually appreciate the heads up.”