Will My Deceased Brother’s Car be Taken Away Due to Old Judgement Leins?

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“My brother recently passed without a will and left a car. I’m scheduled in Probate Court the 27 of this month, to switch the title to my name. I recently found out he has a judgement lein from 2005, reinstated in 2010. I’ve heard that there could be a possibility the car will be taken and sold. What are the odds of this happening? Are there any other options?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

The probate process has a number of functions. Transferring the deceased person’s property to the correct heirs is one of them, but another is payment of creditors.

The “correct” legal result in your situation will depend on a number of factors, including how much the judgment is for, whether it has priority against this particular asset (the car), whether proper notice was given to the creditor, and whether that creditor made a claim in probate within the appropirate amount of time after being given notice.

On a more practical level, you need to consider how much the car is worth, and whether it makes sense to spend a lot of money to try to keep it from this creditor. Depending on the relative value of the car and of the debt, you might be able to work out a deal with the creditor even if they have the right to the asset.

So the answer is “it depends.” If the creditor has followed all the proper procedures and hasn’t missed any deadlines, they probably have the right to be paid before any distribution to heirs. Whether that is the case will depend on the particular facts in your situation.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.