Probate of a Florida Timeshare
Timeshares are a booming business in Florida as the state is home to many popular vacation getaways. Although timeshares enhance vacationing in the sunshine state for many families, they are a misunderstood asset. Though many consumers do not realize it, buying, selling, or renting timeshare often constitutes a legal real estate transaction that is not only binding but often regulated by law. When a timeshare property is owned by deed (deeded ownership), it is considered “real” property.
Under Florida law, timeshare is considered legal real estate. Therefore, it is subject to Florida probate laws and rules when a timeshare owner fails to address their ownership in their estate planning. Attorney Kathy D. Sheive can help you navigate the probate process and ensure a smooth transfer of ownership of your family’s timeshare property. Here’s what you need to know about probate of timeshare properties.
Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent), paying their debts, and distributing their assets to his or her beneficiaries. When the owner of a timeshare property passes, the timeshare becomes part of the decedent’s estate; however, because timeshares are legal real estate and not personal property, the transfer of a Florida timeshare is conducted via a deed or court order.
Alongside probate, there are a few ways to transfer a timeshare property, such as through the distribution of a Trust or by adding parties to the title of a deed transfer. However, most timeshares are inherited through the probate process.
The probate process of a timeshare can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful as it can take anywhere between three to four months to complete, and beneficiaries cannot use the property until ownership is transferred. Maintenance fees must also be paid during this time and failure to pay risks foreclosure on the timeshare property.
Additionally, a timeshare that is located in Florida must be probated in Florida regardless of where the beneficiaries live. However, having the aid of a probate attorney like Kathy D. Sheive can facilitate the process of probating timeshare assets.
A Florida probate action is necessary to pass a timeshare to the lawful heirs or beneficiaries, but the process can be very detailed as it involves several complex issues. These include but are not limited to:
- The content, validity, potential disputes, and execution of a decedent’s will.
- Claims of debt against the decedent’s estate.
- Potential allegations of undue influence of the decedent’s will or claims of entitlement from those who have been left out of the will or believe the estate is not being distributed fairly.
- Estate administration issues.
- Child guardianship issues regarding the children of the decedent.
- Asset and property distribution.
- Other relevant estate issues.
How to Avoid Probate
If you are the intended heir of a timeshare property and the owner has passed, avoiding probate is unlikely. While there are ways to legally refuse an inherited timeshare, the process can complex. Instead, a much easier and more effective strategy to bypass probate entirely is to include one’s timeshare in estate planning and treat the property as the deeded real estate that it is.
Here’s how to carry out a timeshare transfer without issue:
- Trust distribution – Assets like a timeshare can be transferred with a living trust to which you can continue to have access. After your passing, the assets are distributed to your beneficiaries, effectively avoiding the probate process. Trust distribution gives you peace of mind and ensures a smooth transfer of your timeshare to your loved ones.
- Adding heirs through a deed transfer – Adding the names of your heirs to the timeshare deed makes them co-owners by right of survivorship, meaning when one dies, ownership automatically transfers to the survivors. Additionally, a deed can also be transferred prior to death.
Protect Your Estate with an Experienced Probate Attorney in Kissimmee, Florida
If you require professional legal services regarding probate and estate planning issues, experienced probate attorney Kathy D. Sheive can help you navigate Florida’s complex inheritance laws. Kathy D. Sheive Attorney at Law has been protecting the legal rights of Floridians for over 25 years. Attorney Sheive represents each client with the goal of providing the highest standard of legal representation.
For legal assistance in the Kissimmee, St. Cloud, Osceola, and Polk County areas, Contact Kathy D. Sheive Attorney at Law by calling 407-315-2268 for a consultation or by using our online submission form. Call us to learn how our probate and estate planning services can help secure your family’s future.