Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in North Carolina

Automobile is financed in one name and title in anothers (deceased and not related). Heir refuses to sign paperwork. With auto released by heir and in my possession what are the options to protect myself?

Asked on 8/18/13, 8:47 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Kenneth Love Ken Love Law

Unfortunately, your question is too confusing and is missing too much information to give a proper answer. You mention that the heir refuses to sign paperwork but did not indicate what paper work you are referring to. This is contradicted by the next sentence where you indicate that the car was been released to you. You need to consult with an attorney to determine the legal status of the vehicle.

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Answered on 8/18/13, 9:17 pm

You do not relate enough facts. Let's start with who is the car registered to? Obviously, the car is still financed so who is on the loan and why is the car owned by a dead person but financed by someone else who is not on the title?

You mention the car owner is dead. Who died? When did the person die? Was an estate probated for the dead person? Was the car part of the estate?

What is the car's value? How much is left on the loan?

Who are you and why do you need protection and why would an heir release the car to you?

Absent answers to these questions it is impossible for any attorney to give you advice about your situation.

To give some general guidance, I will assume the car was owned by person who died. Car is worth at least what was still owed or a little more at death. Person who died either had a will leaving the car to a beneficiary or there was no will and an intestate heir would receive the car via the intestacy laws. I assume you are the personal representative.

The car would be part of the dead person's estate to the extent their is any equity in the car. The logical thing would be to sell the car (depending) to the person who is the borrower for the equity value and distribute the proceeds with the rest of the estate. However, this will not work if borrower is not the beneficiary of the car under a will or intestacy law. In such case, the beneficiary/heir who is to get the car inherits it subject to the loan and would have to work things out with the borrower. If the car payments are not made the lender is going to repo the car. If the car is worth less than what is owed, this might be an option but the borrower is not the deceased and if the borrower is still alive a repo would have credit repercussions.

If the heir/beneficiary does not want the car, he/she has 2 options: (1) he/she can renounce as set forth in the statutes (I assume the estate is being probated in NC) within 9 months of death; or (2) he/she can gift the car to someone who wants it.

You say that the heir "released" the car to you but I do not know exactly what this means. Did the heir file a proper renunciation? Or sign away his/her rights?

Is the borrower still alive? Why not sell the car to the borrower? Why is the borrower paying for a car to which he/she has no title?

The other option, if you are the personal representative of the estate and have a proper renunciation might be to sell the car if it is worth more than what is owed. The loan would be paid off via the sale proceeds so would get the buyer off the hook. This is the only way the car can be sold. The proceeds can then be distributed with the residue of the estate or to the intestate heirs.

If this does not answer your question, then re-post with the relevant details.

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Answered on 8/18/13, 9:30 pm

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