Florida is one of the most popular timeshare resort areas in the United States. Many Florida vacationers purchase timeshares to have a regular place to stay on each vacation. Because timeshare interests are property, they can be transferred just like other property interests. There are several reasons people transfer Florida timeshares:
- Transfer the timeshare to a living trust for estate planning purposes;
- Removing the name of a deceased owner from the timeshare;
- Adding a new spouse to the timeshare or removing an ex-spouse from the timeshare;
- Transferring the timeshare to children or other family members; or
- Selling the timeshare to a third party once it is no longer needed or wanted.
How to Transfer a Timeshare to a Family Member or Living Trust
Many timeshare transfers are done for estate planning or other family planning purposes. An aging timeshare owner may wish to transfer property to her children since she no longer uses the timeshare. Or the timeshare owner may want to avoid the need to deal with the timeshare in a Florida probate proceeding.
The first step in any timeshare transfer is to determine whether the timeshare is considered real estate. In Florida, most timeshare developments were created as real estate interests. The original timeshare owner was given a real estate interest by deed. That interest gave the owner a specific week in a specific unit—with the unit itself being treated as a condominium—and a proportionate interest in the common area for the same week. Over time, the same interest is transferred from owner to owner.
The best way to ensure that the timeshare is real estate is to look at the documents that transferred the property to you. If you acquired the property by any form of deed—including a quitclaim deed, condominium deed, timeshare deed, or similar instrument—then the timeshare is a real property interest that can be transferred by deed. If you have questions, you might contact the resort or management company to confirm that the timeshare interest is structured as real estate.
When transferring property to a living trust or family member, many timeshare owners do not use a purchase or earnest money contract, conduct due diligence, or purchase new title insurance on the property. All that is required a deed to transfer the property to your family member or living trust. Although the deed could be a Warranty Deed, most people do not make full warranties of title when transferring an interest to a family member or trust. Instead, most people will use a Florida Quitclaim Deed form for an outright transfer or, if the transfer will not occur until the owner’s death, a Florida Lady Bird Deed form.
When preparing the deed to transfer the timeshare, it is important to be sure that the deed is specific to Florida law and meets all of the requirements for recording under the Florida statutes. Many pre-printed deed forms are not state-specific and may cause title issues that remain hidden for years. It is best to use a custom-drafted deed that accomplishes your specific goals. This is particularly important for timeshares, since failure to completely transfer the property could leave you stuck with expensive timeshare payments and delinquency fees.
Once the transfer is complete, the new owner should notify the resort or management company. This notification should identify the new owner of the property and the timeshare, including any account numbers or week numbers. The new owner’s contact information should also be included. The resort should also be provided with a copy of the deed showing that it has been recorded by the county clerk. The resort may have a separate transfer free or form to complete to transfer the property on the books of the resort.
How to Buy or Sell a Timeshare
One of the benefits of timeshares is that you can sell them when you no longer need or want them. This creates opportunities for both buyers and sellers. But when dealing with an unrelated third party, it is important to ensure that proper precautions are taken so that both parties receive the full benefit of the bargain.
If you are selling the timeshare to someone else, you will want to ensure that the purchase price and other details are crystal clear. Although it is not strictly required, most timeshare transfers involve a purchase contract (also called an earnest money contract) that gives the specific terms of the deal. The purchase contract answers questions like:
- What are the names and addresses of the buyer and seller?
- What unit, weeks, and season is being transferred?
- Are the weeks fixed, floating, or based on a point system?
- What type of interest is being transferred?
- What is the purchase price for the timeshare?
- Who is responsible for outstanding maintenance fees and special assessments?
- Will the purchase price be paid in cash or will the seller finance the purchase price?
- Is there any earnest money required to protect the seller?
- What happens if one of the parties backs out on the deal?
If you are buying a timeshare property, will want to do enough due diligence to be sure that you are getting what you pay for. Much of the information you will need can be found by contacting the resort itself. This information may include:
- Is the seller current on maintenance fees?
- Are there any pending or expected special assessments? What is the resort’s history of special assessments?
- Are there any liens on the timeshare?
- Does the seller owe the resort any of the original purchase money for the timeshare?
- Are the current weeks still available?
- What is the size, age, and condition of the resort and related amenities? Does the resort have any plans for improvements?
- What is the status of the homeowner’s association in the resort? Is it active? How many board members are involved? What is your right to participate in the association?
- Does the resort allow you to exchange weeks through the resort?
- Can you allow friends or family members to use your week?
- Does the resort make bonus time available? If so, what is the cost?
- Who owns the resort? Has it been sold recently? How is it managed?
- Does the resort belong to a larger group of resorts? If so, can you exchange time with other resorts or otherwise use their facilities?
You may also want to have an attorney review the title work for the timeshare to be sure that there are no unexpected title issues. If you do not know the buyer and are handling the transaction yourself, you need to be comfortable with the buyer and the transaction.
How to Add or Remove Names from the Timeshare
Instead of transferring the property to someone else, you may want to add or remove a name from title to the property. This could occur, for example, if you are recently married and want to add your spouse’s name to the property. Another common example is removing a deceased owner’s name from title to the property. See our discussion of How to Add a New Owner to the Title Deed to Real Estate and How to Remove a Deceased Owner from a Title Deed to Real Estate for more information on these topics.