What happens if we stop paying fees on deceased parent’s timeshares?

My mother passed away over a year ago. She owned 3 timeshares in different states, all paid in full. Her estate and some inheritance was passed to my brother and me, but she never legally passed the timeshares to us or added us to the deeds. Now that she’s gone, the yearly maintenance fees keep coming. We paid them last year for fear of late fees and used some of the hotels but they are not something we want to keep. Is there a way we can get rid of them legally? I contacted one of the timeshares, told them of the situation and they said we had to hire a probate lawyer until we could do anything and that they don’t do deed backs. Some others have told me

we can just try to cancel the contracts without probate through a company or lawyer who specializes in them. Some others said we can just stop paying and let the properties foreclose fine with us because we dont want them. If we just don’t pay the fees, will the timeshare companies be able to personally hold my brother or me responsible since we are next of kin? We have heard and read

these clauses are in perpetuity and never end, even after death. We both have excellent credit, and just want to be free of these properties. We just have no idea what to do.

Asked on January 4, 2018 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No one can be held liable for another person's contacts or obligations. If you and your brother do not own the timeshares and are not on their contracts (and did not guaranty or co-sign any contracts or obligations), you are not responsible for them. Your parent's estate is responsible, assuming the estate has not been wrapped up and closed out (i.e. probate is not complete), so the timeshare company could sue the estate for money owed. The most they can get is the money in the estate (i.e. what you are inheriting), but cannot make you or brother pay out of pocket (other than returning any estate money that you have taken out of the estate to date, even though the estate has not been wrapped up or probated) or otherwise personally liable. And if the estate has already gone through probate and been closed out, they can't even do that much: after probate, the estate no longer exists, so there is nothing for them to get money from. Being next of kin does not make you liable for another's debts. So, subject to the estate, if it has not been closed out, being potentially liable for any amounts due on the timeshare, you can walk away from the timeshares.
IMPORTANT: this assumes that you do not transfer the timeshares to your names during the probate process or otherwise accept them. You must make sure to decline the timeshares. 


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