DEAR BRUCE: We have owned our timeshare for many years and have enjoyed family trips and vacations. Due to age and health problems, we have not used it for a few years. Paying maintenance fees is like throwing money to the wind. With the poor economy, how can we get rid of this burden? Should we just stop paying out these fees and walk away? What options would you suggest? -- Rich, via e-mail
DEAR RICH: Your story is one I hear time and time again. As you must know, I have not been a fan of timeshares for a great many reasons. It does work for some folks, but the vast majority end up overpaying. The reality is that there is no after market.
There are companies that say they will sell your timeshare, but every one I've investigated wants money upfront. Can you image a real estate agent who is selling your home, saying I want my commission up front? Totally absurd. And in most cases, a sale never takes place. In some cases, if you stop making payments, the management of these firms will just foreclose upon your unit and that's the end of it. But sometimes, they know the property has little to no value and they'll litigate. Before you take any moves as painful as this may be, please see a local attorney and let him look at all the documents. Perhaps he can lead you in the best direction, despite how unpleasant. Most of the time, you can't give these things away because buyers know that they may be obliged to pay the maintenance fees you mentioned.
DEAR BRUCE: My father passed away last October. He left a will, but I cannot find the signed copy. We acquired an unsigned copy from his lawyer. He had included three of his four children, excluding one son completely, which was explained in detail. All children abided by his wishes until it came to selling his house. He left behind two houses, one of which the youngest daughter lives in and was paying rent to buy. The house he lived in was to be sold and divided. The will gives one son complete control of how to divide the sale.