My 86-year-old mother cannot get rid of her paid-in-full timeshare. The maintenance fees are hurting her financially. She has tried to sell and/or donate it to a charity without any luck. How can she dispose of it? Do we, her beneficiaries, have to take it over? Can she just stop paying the maintenance fees?
Your mother is not alone. Many owners have discovered that timeshares can be impossible to unload. And in the current economic malaise, more timeshare owners than ever are having trouble making their payments.
Although you didn't indicate where your mother's timeshare is located, they are usually located in destination resorts such as Orlando, near ski areas or in foreign destinations such as Mexico or Caribbean countries.
When selling a timeshare, first contact the company that manages the property. Some offer a service to help owners sell their timeshares. Frequently, these companies will retain a hefty percentage of the sales price, but if you can't sell it and are willing to give it away, getting something for it is better than nothing.
If your timeshare is not part of a national timeshare or hotel-management company, you can try to advertise it for sale on many Web sites set up for that purpose. You can even try to sell it through Craigslist or eBay, which can help you gauge whether there are people out there looking to buy a timeshare in your development.
You can also engage the services of a real estate agent who specializes in timeshare sales. Most of these options will not require an upfront fee to sell your timeshare, but some companies ask. I'm not a fan of this practice.
Another option, especially if your timeshare is in a desirable location, is to rent it out. You can list your timeshare for rent on sites like VBRO.com. The rental money you receive can offset the fees that your mother is incurring in owning the timeshare.
One last option available is to trade timeshare usage for another location that may be more desirable to the family. For example, if your mother's timeshare is in California but she and most of her family live on the East Coast, you may be able to exchange it for something closer to home. Your family might be able to use the timeshare and give your mother the money that you would have spent on a hotel.
Those are some of your options. However, if you've tried all of them or you just want to get rid of the timeshare, you might try to advertise it as a free timeshare and see if someone will take it from you for no money.
As you've discovered, you can't just give the timeshare to a charity. An organization has to accept it and agree to take it out of your mother's name.
Basically that holds true for giving it away to anybody. In order for you to give it away, the recipient must be a willing party to the transaction - meaning that they are willing to assume the obligations of the timeshare.
You should also know that the timeshare company may have the right to sue your mother for payments she has failed to make.
If the timeshare does not have much value but the annual fees are high relative to the value, the late fees and other charges might quickly rise to be above the value of the timeshare. At some point, the timeshare management company will have to proceed to take action against your mother.
The timeshare company could seize the timeshare to satisfy the debt. It could also sue your mother for her failure to pay the expenses she owes on the timeshare. If they sued your mother, she would have to defend the action in court and incur those expenses. And if she lost, her other assets would be at risk.
Although the management company might decide to take the timeshare interest for the amount that's owed, your mother might want to talk to a lawyer before she stops making payments. Even if the timeshare company doesn't sue, they could simply transfer the file to a collection company to collect what it could. Your best option is to see what you can get for the timeshare while you still control it.
Finally, when a person dies, the timeshare company can't go after the beneficiaries of their estate. But if the estate has assets at the time of death, those assets need to be used to satisfy debts - and one of those debts would be to the timeshare company.
If an owner were to die without any assets in his or her name, the timeshare company would be unable to get anything from the estate and should not be able to get anything from the family.
If your mother purchased the timeshare in her name, her debts would not pass on to her heirs.
Last June I lost my house to foreclosure after a 12-month battle with a big lender. My second mortgage on my home was a home equity line of credit [HELOC] with the same lender.
According to my credit report, the HELOC was charged off. Recently, I was contacted by the lender, and they want me to pay $50 a month with no interest toward the amount I owed until we settle the amount.
They told me that if I don't agree to their terms, they will turn the file over to an outside collection agency that will lawyer up and garnish my wages.
Is it possible for them to garnish my wages, and if I start making payments won't that reactivate the loan? If it has been charged off, isn't it closed?
Your lender might have charged off the debt on its books and might have even reported to the credit reporting agencies that the debt has been charged off, but in the eyes of the law - depending on the laws in the state in which the property is located - that debt might still exist.
In some states, when a borrower loses his home in foreclosure, the lender can't go after him for the deficiency. That is to say, when the lender forecloses on a borrower, the lender can only get whatever money is received from the sale of the home through the foreclosure process.
Not all states prohibit deficiency judgments. If you live in a state that permits deficiency judgments, the bank can sue you for the deficiency when they foreclose on your home.
Some states require lenders to undertake certain actions to obtain a deficiency judgment and recover money from a borrower. Depending on where you live, the lender must file certain documents with the foreclosure documentation to preserve their right to go after you for the deficiency. In other cases, the lender must move to get a deficiency judgment within a certain number of days after the foreclosure.
If you live in a state that does not allow deficiency judgments, don't get too comfortable because such judgments are allowed in certain cases.
For example, in commercial and investment real estate transactions, lenders usually can go after borrowers for deficiency judgments. Some states that don't allow deficiency judgments for primary residences will allow them for second homes. And, in some cases, second mortgages and HELOCs can be carved out of the exclusion relating to deficiency judgments, particularly when a loan is obtained after a home was purchased.
During the real estate boom, people bought homes and then refinanced them to strip out the equity, frequently with a first mortgage and a second mortgage or HELOC loan. In some cases, those second mortgages and HELOC mortgages may not be exempted from the rules relating to deficiency judgments.
You'll need to find out whether you live in a state that permits deficiency judgments. If your state does not - even on HELOCs - then it's unlikely that the lender can sue you to recover the amount owed on the HELOC. But that does not mean that the lender cannot still farm that debt out to a debt collector.
If your state does allow a deficiency judgment against you on the HELOC and the lender has preserved its rights to get that deficiency from you, the lender can move to sue you.
You need to find out whether the bank has taken the right steps to obtain a deficiency judgment. Double-check everything the lender did during the foreclosure. You might find that they blew their opportunity but are still trying to get it from you.
Talk to a real estate lawyer. Once you have a better handle on what rights your lender has, you can make a better decision about how to go forward. Some people might argue that you have a moral obligation to repay your debt, whether the deficiency judgment exists or not, but you'll need to make that decision yourself after you have a better understanding of where things stand.
Finally, if you have not recovered from your financial problems, you might need to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer to determine whether it would be an option. The bankruptcy laws were put in place to give people a chance to start over. Yes, your credit history and credit score take a real hit. But they are already near the bottom from the foreclosure.
I was added to the deed on a house without my permission. How can I get off it without spending a lot of money?
In general, when you become an owner of real estate, it's because you agreed to buy property or received it in an inheritance.
In your case, you agreed neither to buy nor receive the property, and you did not take any action to take ownership.
In a real estate purchase, you receive the title to the land or home by accepting the deed at settlement or at the real estate closing. If a relative gives you a piece of land or a home as a gift, you are usually given title to that property and you can then proceed to record the title with the local recorder of deeds or other governmental office that takes care of real estate recordings.
In the last scenario, you could be given property, and the person who gives you the gift moves to put you into title of that home or land. Although you might not have received a piece of paper, you could have accepted the gift by other means. By letter or other action, you might have acknowledged the gift and thanked the person who gave it to you.
In some circumstances, people decide to gift a home or a piece of land to a relative without their knowledge. In this situation, the intended recipient of the gift is under no obligation to accept it. In fact, if you had no knowledge of the gift- and when you found out about it took actions that would show that you had no desire to accept it- you might not have any property problems.
Having said that, if your name and address identifies you as the owner of the home, you could say that the law may not recognize you as the owner, but in practice the governmental agencies that deal with the gifted land may consider you to be the owner.
To solve this practical issue, you might be able to unwind the original document by having the person who gave you the land issue a new document that reversed the grant in the first document. You, in turn, could issue a quitclaim deed transferring any interest you could be considered to have in the land back to the person who gave it to you.
If the person who gave you the land is unwilling to cooperate, you might be able to issue your own quitclaim deed back to the original owner and record that document with the property governmental agency. However, you might want to note on the quitclaim deed the circumstances of the original gift and state that by using the quitclaim deed you reject the gift given to you.
Finally, the document should probably state that the effective date of the quitclaim deed is the original gift date to you. You want to make it clear that you never had any intention of receiving or accepting the gift, that the purpose of the document is to reject any interest that might have purportedly been given, and that, now that your name has been placed on the title, you reject any ownership that might have been conveyed to you.
While you don't want to spend much money, you might want to talk to a local title company officer to make sure you use the right document to reject any purported gift. You can also get information from the governmental office that accepts documents for recording. However, your best bet is to talk to a local real estate lawyer.
Glink is an author and nationally syndicated columnist. Tamkin is a real estate lawyer in Chicago. If you have questions for them, write to Real Estate Matters Syndicate, P.O. Box 366, Glencoe, Ill. 60022, or contact them through Glink's Web sites, thinkglink.com and expertrealestatetips.net.