Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Pennsylvania

I'm executrix of my father estate. Last year my father and girlfriend purchased a camper and she consigned the loan, I waited to get the short certificate and other paperwork from CityHall durning the wait,the girlfriend went to the campsite and retrieved all his property from the camper. What legal actions can I take against her and the camper people.

Asked on 5/19/15, 6:39 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

What a mess. I assume that your father was not married and he obviously had bad credit because he needed a co-signer, which was girlfriend. He then died without a will.

If this is the case (no will) then girlfriend gets nothing. Being a co-signer only just obligated her to pay for the camper if father did not. It gives her no ownership rights in the camper itself. Are you sure she is just a co-signer and not a co-owner???

Girlfriend would of course be permitted to have her own property if any. However, if there was no will she is not entitled to retain an personal property of your father. You are unfortunately going to have to hire a probate attorney. As personal representative of our father's estate, you will have to have the lawyer write her a demand letter for the property and, if need be, commence legal action against her to recover the property or its value.

All of this costs money and this returns us to your father's circumstances. As I said, your father must have had either lousy credit (unlikely he had no credit) that he needed a co-signer. If that is the case, then I doubt he had anything of significance. And how is the camper to be paid for? If payment is not made, the camper is going to be repossessed and the lender is going to go after girlfriend and possibly your father's estate if there are any assets. So girlfriend is going to end up having to pay for the camper. What did she take? What is its value/importance? Is it worth going to court over?

As an alternative, maybe a strongly worded letter from the probate lawyer will put enough fear into girlfriend such that she can be induced to voluntarily return anything belonging to your father. If girlfriend has no ownership in the camper, what is to be done with it? Can your father's estate afford to sell it or make the payments until it is sold so that this will not be on girlfriend's credit? Maybe it can be put to her like this - she either does the right thing and returns the stuff and you will play nice and not let her credit be ruined OR she can keep the stuff but the camper will be repossessed unless she pays and the lender is going to come after her because you are not paying for it. This will of course depend on what other assets there are in your father's estate.

Because you do not relate all the relevant details here, I have made some educated guesses. However, my views could change if there were other information. In light of this, you really need to pay a probate lawyer who practices in the county where your father's estate is pending in PA to review the file, any loan/purchase documents for the camper and an other circumstances - whether your father had a will, any other assets owned by your father, a list of all his children, etc. and give you an assessment as to our best course of action.

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Answered on 5/21/15, 2:57 am

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