A time share is a residence in which a tenant does not own the right to the whole property but, rather, the right to occupy the property for a specific period of time each year. This is cemented in a contractual agreement that the tenant signs with the company that owns and manages the property. The right to the property extends past the owner's death, unless the time share contract says otherwise.
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In general, time share contracts are written similarly to other kinds of real estate contracts that grant partial ownership to a tenant. Unlike a lease, which may be invalidated on the tenant's death, time shares can be inherited. However, some time shares may have clauses that specify the property will be returned to the property management company upon the tenant's death, although these are relatively rare.
Some time share contracts specify joint ownership. This means that more than one party -- say, a husband and a wife or a father and a child -- both own a timeshare. In this case, when one owner dies, the remaining owners gain full ownership of the timeshare. In such a case, the time share property will not enter probate along with the rest of the deceased's property.
If a time share is not jointly owned with another party, then, upon the owner's death, the time share will enter into probate. This means that the property will be handed down to another party according to the terms of the deceased's will, trust or other legal document that specifies who will inherit his estate. A judge in probate court will specify who the rightful owner of the time share is.
A number of different state laws related to inheritance, real estate and, more specifically, time shares, may also influence who owns a time share when the owner dies. Therefore, a person wishing to be certain of what will happen to a time share after the owner's death should consult with an attorney or a professional experienced in estate planning and contract law -- one who is familiar with relevant state statutes.
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