How can I save my deceased mother's car?
March 10, 2010 7:28 PM   Subscribe

My mom passed away, how can I keep her vehicle which still has a balance on the loan?

My mom has passed away after fighting an illness for a few years.

She had a house, which her father left to her and her brother stating "Joint tenants with right of survivorship" Although, she had spent excess of 25k remodeling this house without knowing it would go directly to her brother, but this of course is another matter.

Her car. Her only other possession of monetary value (so much more to me), has a balance on the loan. Is there any way for me to take over these payments?

The estate has not be opened due to lack of assets, but it would mean a lot to be able to own this which was hers. I spoke to the loan company and they will not talk to me unless I was executrix (Which does cost more than it's worth, after all, I just want to take over payments or retake the loan into my name).

Is there any way to possibly do this without bringing all her other debts into this and essentially wiping out any of the equity on her vehicle? This is in the state of Pennsylvania, she did not have a will, I am her only child and she is not married.

Thanks for any insight.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have no idea about the legalities of the probate situation. That may be reason enough not to read anything that follows.

But -- as a practical matter -- what's to stop you from just taking over the payments by sending in your own checks? The loan company won't care so long as payments are being made. Eventually, once the loan is paid and if you want the title in your name, I assume there would be a paperwork issue to iron out with the state DMV. But I'm sure the state DMV faces deceased-owner situations all the time.

I suppose one of your relatives might come after the car, and you would face the risk that you might lose the money you sink into the payments because someone might have a legal right to take the car away as part of the estate -- I don't know. You'll need to get some assessment of that risk before you proceed. Are your relatives likely to be angry if they find out you have the car? Is there likely to be a probate proceeding where a court inquires into the various assets of the estate (a car would be an obvious thing to ask about). If yes, you probably need to work this out in advance with them and/or a lawyer.
posted by Mid at 7:54 PM on March 10, 2010

I did this when my dad died. I continued to make the payments, got insurance on it, and used the truck as if it were my own. However, I *did* go through probate eventually, so once the darn thing was paid off the title was in my name.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:34 PM on March 10, 2010

My mother died with both assets and debts.

On this issue, I would consult with an Estate Lawyer about it. Especially since there is no will. It's really a complex field, and my lawyer was worth every penny.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:22 PM on March 10, 2010

In many states, there is a simple process for transferring title to vehicles when there is no probate estate. The Secretary of State, or equivalent, probably has the information posted on a web site.
posted by yclipse at 4:25 AM on March 11, 2010

This probably varies by state, but in Florida I had to take out a loan on the car myself. The title transfer was pretty automatic, I just think I had to show a death certificate. On preview, what yclipse said.
posted by lordrunningclam at 4:43 AM on March 11, 2010

You want to look at PennDOT form MV-39. I think your situation is on page 6 - (No will, no spouse and no minor heirs).
posted by Lucinda at 5:01 AM on March 11, 2010

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