My father-in-law is 86 and in poor health. He owns a time-share he doesn't use, but it costs $800 a year in fees. That obligation will apparently pass on to his estate. There is no market for resale, and we even asked the owners association to take it back at no cost, but the association refused. Can you help us find a way out of paying forever on something we will never use?
— Debbie Kim, Overland Park, Kansas
Here's my advice for anyone tempted to buy a time-share: Tread carefully. As Debbie has found, resale value is often nonexistent, with no good way to get out of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars a year in fees. Of course, there is no shortage of companies offering to help you unload your time-share property—at a steep price. Many are scams.
I reached out to Dan Reeves, the volunteer board president of the Vintage Landing Property Owners Association in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, where the Kim time-share is located. I pleaded the family's case, but no luck. "I'm in the same boat," Reeves said. "I signed the same contract as Mr. Kim did. We can only hope the economy picks up."