Q: My dad passed away recently and now my mother is the sole owner of a timeshare in Florida. We have tried to sell it, give it back to the company and donate it, all to no avail. We live in New Jersey.

Is it true that if the deed states that she owns it “in perpetuity?” The document that they received when they bought the timeshare states that the timeshare “benefits and obligations hereunder shall inure to and be binding upon the heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns” of my parents.

Does that mean that her children will still be liable for the timeshare fees and maintenance when she dies?

A: Unless your parents put your name on the deed to the timeshare property in Florida, you will not be held responsible for the timeshare when your mom dies.

When a person buys a timeshare, that person becomes responsible for all fees associated with the purchase. When buying a timeshare in a development, people usually only focus on the upfront cost. They sometimes forget that they will have to pay the annual fees and dues associated with the timeshare development.

As the economy has been in a prolonged period of uncertainty, many people have shied away from various types of spending, including timeshares. If your timeshare is a participant in a hotel program that allows for the exchange of the use of the timeshare for points, your mom may consider obtaining points in exchange for using the timeshare, especially if she and no one in the family is using the timeshare. Check with the timeshare company to determine what options you have in using the timeshare that may be short of selling it.

While getting points in a hotel program doesn’t solve your issue in the long run, in the short term it may give you something you and your family can use elsewhere or for other things while you sort through the situation.

Looking ahead, if you don’t want the timeshare at the time your mom dies, you can elect not to accept that inheritance. Just because your mother has indicated that you should receive something from her estate, doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

If no one accepts the timeshare at the time of her death, her estate would continue to own it and it would become a liability for her estate. If she has assets in her estate at the time of her death, the executor of her estate may have to use those assets to continue payments on the timeshare.

That’s where the language in that deed comes into play. When your mom dies, her estate becomes responsible for the timeshare as her “successor.” That language does not put you in the middle of debts and obligations that your parents might have incurred.

It would be wise for all of you to sit down with the person that prepared her will or an estate planner to determine what you should do with the timeshare at the time of her death.

You could continue to use the timeshare, see what other options you have for using or trading the timeshare use on a yearly basis, and continue to advertise the timeshare for sale through the company that handles the management operations of your timeshare development, Craigslist.org, and other vacation sale sites, and even real estate brokers in your area.

In some locations, selling a timeshare can be difficult in this market, but review your options now and see any other ideas pop up. It may not be a good year to sell the timeshare now, it could be better a couple of years down the line, especially if the timeshare is in a premium location.

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