Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Arizona

My grandmother passed away in July. My mother was told she would get her car. There is a lien holder on title with only a few thousand dollars left to pay it in full. When my mother called the lien holder to see about taking over the payments, they wouldn't talk to her and even went to my grandmother's house to try to repossess the car. My mother has been driving the car for 4 years as my grandmother's health would not allow her to drive anymore. So it has been my mother's car for the past 4 yrs and my grandmother wanted her to be able to keep it. Now the trouble, we need to get it registered as it has lapsed do to dealing with the deaths of 3 family members in 4 months. Can we just register it and keep paying the loan with no repercussion? Or since the lien holder is aware of my grandmother's death can they legally just take the car even though the payments have been made consistently and timely? Please help as my mother is about ready to crack with everything. Thank you.


Asked on 9/14/10, 8:08 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Donald Scher Donald T. Scher & Associates, P.C.

If the payments on the loan have all been made when due, then the lender should have no rights since there has been no default under the loan agreement. However, I don't know what the loan agreement provides in the event of the death of the borrower, so it is possible that the lender has the right to possession in the event of the death. You cannot just register the vehicle. You have to follow legal procedure to gain ownership rights since there is probably substantial equity/ value to own the vehicle if there is only a few thousand dollars left to pay. You may have to pay off the loan balance all at once.

The fact that delay has occurred because of the loss of other family members is understandable but not a legal excuse. It would be important for you to consult with an attorney to sort out the issues and the procedure required to deal with your grandmother's estate and to determine if a probate is required. It may be that your mother is entitled to receive everything in your grandmother's estate and can obtain ownership by simply filing an affidavit with the court.

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Answered on 9/19/10, 8:39 pm

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