When someone dies and leaves a car with an attached loan, the vehicle generally becomes part of the estate. If no will exists and the matter is not taken to probate court, you can usually become the owner of the vehicle. However, it is not as simple as sending in the payments from your checking account to the lender. Lenders do not simply add someone to an existing loan. Instead, the loan must be paid off and a new loan started.
Look over the car loan documents to see whether it is listed as a joint account. If you applied for the loan with the deceased, your name is already on it. This means that you can make the payments with no other actions necessary.
Contact the lending institution if you are not listed on the loan documentation. Inform the representative of the death and of your intentions to continue paying on the vehicle. The representative might request that you fax over the death certificate for their records, which allows them to change the title. Before ending your conversation, ask for the payoff amount on the loan.
Submit a used car loan application with your local bank or other financial institutions for the amount of the loan payoff. You can even apply through the same lender as the deceased person. Information needed for the loan information is typically your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, employment details and income information.
Once you are approved for a loan, use the new car loan to pay off the deceased person’s car loan. This closes out that loan. You now make the car payments to the new lender for the vehicle.
You should also consult your local DMV or state vehicle registering office to get the registration changed over to your name. Fees for this vary. Usually a copy of the death certificate is required for this process.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images