This article is specifically for anyone who owns Disney Vacation Club (DVC) properties. I’m not a lawyer and this most definitely is not a legal opinion, just my personal observation about the transfer of your DVC property to another owner. The last paragraph of this article is the nugget of information I really want you all to have.
Let me start by stating that when I first bought DVC in 1993, when it was originally known only as Old Key West, I remember talking with the sales rep about passing the 50 year lease down to my children. They were very specific about the ease of keeping the property in the family, but no legal requirements of doing so were discussed. I even remember them telling me you could transfer the property for $1.00. At the time I really believed it would be that easy.
Fast forward 15+ years to when close friends (P&J) brought DVC for the first time. They went on to buy at multiple locations; I think they have four properties in total. Then another friend (DS) brought into DVC the same year and went on to purchase at three different locations, over three states – Florida, California and Hawaii. Then a couple years back Shelley also purchased points. She did so while we were on a cruise and we both sat down with the sales rep regarding the specifics. We were told that we would be able to simply list each other on the other’s accounts as joint owners, and the only limitation was doing so directly at the time of purchase, OR owning your property directly (with no outstanding loans). Because of the loan provision, we were unable to initially both be on the title, but we didn’t worry about it because of how easy Disney said it would be to do later. What we did do immediately was to make each other an associate on our respective accounts. Being a listed associate on the account gives you all the same vacation planning, points transfer, banking, etc. as the listed owner.
When P&J decided a couple of year ago that they wanted to add their two adult children to their DVC account as owners (not associates), they were told that this needed to be done through a change in title; something that was going to cost approximately $2,000-$3,000 per DVC property. Boy! We were all really surprised by this. What happened to that simple transfer of property to children, and keeping the DVC ownership in the family?
Unfortunately the sad part of this story, and the reason I’m writing on the subject, is my dear friend DS just died unexpectedly last month. She passed away three days before our next scheduled trip to WDW and on The Disney Dream. Trying to let Disney know we were not going to be there was a nightmare, because she had made our reservations through her DVC points. I was listed as a guest and passenger, but didn’t have any rights to make changes. Believe me, I wasn’t worried about any return of points at the time; I simply wanted to let Disney know we wouldn’t be there. Let me just say that the DVC rep was very nice, kind and considerate… but he was not able to cancel any of the arrangements.
DS’s son has since spoken with DVC. He was her only child and was listed in her will as his sole beneficiary. But, because he was not listed as a beneficiary specifically with Disney (which I’m not even sure is possible), nor was he an associate member on her account, her three properties are going to go into probate in three different states. He was already dealing with the sudden death of his mother and now he’s embroiled in a long process of trying to transfer her property to himself. When I spoke with his yesterday he stated that the most frustrating thing was that no one at Disney seemed to know exactly how to do this. So that “simple” transfer of property to your children that was a selling point to me when I originally purchased, may have actually been a fairy tale.
I certainly don’t fault Disney for any legalities that need to happen, and I’ll absolutely state that I’m not dealing with them, but simply listening to the frustration of my close friend’s son. I just wish it wasn’t happening.
Here’s my nugget of information I’d like all owners to take away though….. If your children are already adults, at the very least put them on your account as an associate member. Otherwise, if you haven’t already done so, name your children as direct beneficiaries of your DVC properties, or better yet put them on the title at the time of purchase, create a living trust, or do whatever a lawyer recommends NOW, long before it becomes an issue.
Jo Scholl is a long time Walt Disney fan, grateful Disney Vacation Club (DVC) owner, and proud mom to three amazing adult children, one of whom is fellow columnist Shelley Scholl. Jo is also a first time grandma to a new Disney fan, Reese Ann! And she resides with a small black dog named Mickey Mouse!