Take his car, please.
February 4, 2009 9:49 AM   Subscribe

How can my father transfer the ownership of a car to my sister, who is not reachable, or otherwise get rid of it?

Many years ago, my father bought a brand new car for my little sister. It was supposed to be a loan, but to make a long story short she never paid him back. It has been in his name all the time, and he's been paying the insurance on it, not to mention her parking tickets. She's been living with him all that time (she's now in her 30s).

Recently, she announced her intention to move out of state with her boyfriend. Her father told her to either leave the car, or to make sure that the deed was transferred to her before her moving date. She agreed to do the latter but failed to do so. She moved out, taking the car, his computer, and a lot of other things. She also left no forwarding address. He can reach her on her cell phone, but she hangs up on him or doesn't answer.

Family relationship issues aside, all he wants to do right now is to get rid of the car so he is no longer responsible for the insurance, not to mention parking tickets. (He had to pay about $2000 worth of her parking tickets shortly before she left - being that he is retired, he really can't afford this kind of thing.) How can he do this? The most drastic measure we can think of is for him to report it stolen, which technically it was I guess, but he doesn't want to get her arrested or anything either. He doesn't want the car back - if it did come back, or if she'd left it, he was going to donate it to charity.

He is in New York State and she moved (as far as we know) to Florida, if that makes a difference.
posted by thread_makimaki to Law & Government (10 answers total)
I would absolutely report the car stolen, and everything else that she took.
posted by mkb at 9:58 AM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

She didn't do what she said she'd do. Report it stolen.
posted by notsnot at 10:01 AM on February 4, 2009

Since he can reach her by cell, eave a voicemail giving her a date to return the car + stuff. Warn her that if it is not returned by that date, it will be reported stolen.
posted by nitsuj at 10:08 AM on February 4, 2009 [6 favorites]

Lawyer up!

She probably doesn't think that he'll actually report it stolen, but if he does, that might lead to even more crazy drama. You've got to talk to a lawyer about how to deal with this.
posted by paperzach at 10:21 AM on February 4, 2009

Definitely report it stolen. Immediately.
posted by thejanna at 10:51 AM on February 4, 2009

Definitely go with your dad to speak to an attorney. Maybe they can reverse search a new address for her based on her cell phone number, providing she gave her cell provider her updated address...
posted by jerseygirl at 11:05 AM on February 4, 2009

Best answer: Property law varies from state to state, so you really need to get local (NY) advice. It may not be necessary for her to be present to transfer ownership. Your father may be able to sign over the title and submit the documentation to whatever state bureaucracy handles car registration, perhaps using your sister's last known NY address. Then cancel the insurance, providing the insurance company with a copy of the transfer documents.

If she hasn't had her mail forwarded, eventually the consequences will catch up with her, but it may allow your father to stop supporting her behavior without sending his child to jail, which given the scant details of your story I'm guessing he's loathe to do.

As paperzach says, you really need local counsel for legal advice.
posted by fogovonslack at 11:09 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

You should call the Secretary of State and ask them what your options are. There may be some way to cancel the registration for the car, but he would still need to insure it.
Try Zabasearch.com to find her or the boyfriend, they should show up once they get utilities.
He could have it repossessed once you find them.
posted by lee at 11:43 AM on February 4, 2009

Response by poster: I guess I knew this already but it helps to hear it confirmed. I told him go see a lawyer ASAP. (I can't go with him since I don't even live in the same country, but he's perfectly capable of doing it on his own.) Thank you everyone.
posted by thread_makimaki at 12:19 PM on February 4, 2009

Yeah, the registration might be complicated, but you can generally transfer title without the recipient's permission. What might be more tricky is getting off the registration without reurning the plates or reporting them stolen.
posted by mercredi at 7:52 PM on February 4, 2009

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