Can my ex-husband's children take a car that was in his name but, was given to me as a gift away from me? 22 Answers as of February 26, 2013

My ex husband purchased a car for me as a gift and made the payments. The car was in his name. He passed away and now his children are trying to take the car from me. Can they do that?

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The Taylor Law Office L.L.C.
The Taylor Law Office L.L.C. | Ian A. Taylor
They certainly can if there is no proof that the car was a gift. You need to have some evidence to present to the court that the car was a lifetime gift and the court can make a determine whether you can keep the vehicle or whether it is in fact a part of his estate. This assumes that the children have opened an estate for you ex-husband. If the court is not yet involved you may not be able to resolve the matter without some mutual agreement between parties.
Answer Applies to: South Carolina
Replied: 2/26/2013
Frederick & Frederick PLC | James P Frederick
I would be very concerned, if I were you. Because the car was titled in your ex-husband's name, it is legally considered to be HIS asset. You would need to have some solid evidence that it was given to you. Probate laws are based on the concept of title. The fact that you do not have title is a major strike against you. If the kids are not determined to see that you get the car, you should at least consult with a probate attorney to see if you have any good arguments for keeping the car.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/26/2013
Durham Jones & Pinegar | Erven Nelson
You will need to convince a judge of the gift, which could be difficult since the title is in your ex-husbands name. If there is a probate matter started in court, you should file a claim for the car. You will need any proof you can find including divorce decrees, letters, notes, insurance policies and oral testimony from friends who can testify of your ex-husbands intentions.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 2/26/2013
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C.
O'Keefe Legal Services, L.L.C. | Sean P. O'Keefe
In Maryland, probably. When one completes a gift, one transfers the property, and gives up dominion and control over it. It sounds like your ex-husband may not have given up control over the vehicle if he maintained title to it, so the gift may not have been a completed gift but rather a gift in allowing you to use his vehicle. You can likely overcome the presumption that the vehicle was his, and he did not gift it to you because he did not transfer title to you, but you will need solid evidence to support your claim.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 2/26/2013
DOUGLAS A. TULL, P.C.
DOUGLAS A. TULL, P.C. | Douglas A. Tull
Since you are not a spouse anymore, your rights are extremely limited, if not "non-existent" in the situation you are describing.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/26/2013
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C.
    Kokish & Goldmanis, P.C. | Bernard H. Greenberg
    Maybe. If there are documents proving the gift that will help you. If his Will mentions the gift that will help you. If no one knows about the gift and the title to the car was never placed in your name, that is against you.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A.
    The Law Offices of Laurie E. Ohall, P.A. | Laurie E. Ohall
    Unfortunately, if your ex-husband did not have a Last Will and Testament specifically stating that the car should go to you, then under Florida law, the car and any of his other property would go to whomever he specifies in a Will, or if there is no Will, and he was not married at the time of his death, to his children.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Neil J. Lehto, Esq.
    Neil J. Lehto, Esq. | Neil J. Lehto
    The gift to you was incomplete without transfer of its title so his children can take it away from you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    Well, since your husband did not take the final step and put it in your name, then it looks like they can. You may be able to go to court and get testimony from others to establish that it was a gift. But that will be difficult to prove. Unless you have other claims against the estate, is the care worth it?
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    Maybe, it depends on whether or not you can prove the gift.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    James Law Group
    James Law Group | Christine James
    If there is a will or trust leaving his estate to you they cannot take it. Depending on how long you were married you may have a community property interest in it regardless if there was a will or trust which would give you at least a partial interest in the vehicle.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    The Wideman Law Center, P.C. | Susan Wideman Schaible
    Yes. He legally owned the car when he died and now it is part of his estate.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Randy M. Lish, Attorney at Law | Randy M. Lish
    How was the title held, and is there a will? Whether they can depends completely on the facts of your situation, and what the state law is. I would need a lot more information before I could give a decent answer.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C.
    Minor, Bandonis and Haggerty, P.C. | Brian Haggerty
    Probably. If you could prove that the car was given to you as a gift, then it is yours and they couldn't take it. The problem is that with a car, the title and registration are 99% of the proof of ownership. If the title is in your ex's name, then it's his car; overcoming the evidence provided by the title would be very, very difficult. In order for there to be a "gift," legally, there has to be a donative intent (the giver must intend that the property become the property of the donee) and there must be "delivery " and "delivery" has legal meaning. With some property, "delivery" includes more than just handing over the property, it can also include "handing over" proof of ownership. It is possible that, if we researched this, we would find that for a gift of a car to be a legally complete gift, there must be a transfer of title on the records of the DMV to the donee. In any case, how are you going to maintain insurance on the car? The insurance company probably won't insure it for someone who is not the owner.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Huddleston Law Group, LPA | C L Huddleston
    Unfortunately, yes, unless there is something in his Will that says otherwise. The vehicle title establishes ownership.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC
    THE BROOME LAW FIRM, LLC | Barry D. Broome
    Not if he put the title in your name. If it is in his name then yes they can.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Law Office of Pamela Braynon | Pamela Y. Braynon
    You as the surviving spouse and assuming that you and your husband had no children together and no will was left, you are entitled to 1/2 of his estate. So no they cannot take the car away from you. It would be good if you have some type of writing that shows where he gifted you the car..i.e. a card, note, etc.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    What you need to do is go to Secretary of State with registration and death certificate. Have the vehicle changed into your name. In Michigan that will suffice. The children have no right to any gift or to any property until so ordered by the court. Whether a will or not, you have spousal allowances. Take care of the car issue, which does not have to be probated. If you have the title to car take that along to. If not, that is okay.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Sebby Law Office
    Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
    Since the vehicle was in his name at the time of his death, the car is part of his estate. You can challenge that designation by proving to the probate court that it was a gift to you. You will need verifiable documents or communications from him stating specifically that the car is a gift to you or that he is giving it to you permanently. Your testimony alone won't be enough to satisfy the court.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Dara Goldsmith
    Was the car awarded to you in the Decree of Divorce or property settlement agreement? If not, then they are probably entitled to have it and may use an affidavit or court order (depending upon the estate's value) to transfer title to them.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    Unless you can prove by something in writing that the car was a gift to you, then it is in his name and goes to his heirs.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/26/2013
    Lippitt O'Keefe | Brian D. O'Keefe
    If your husbands name is on the title to the car, then the car will go into his estate. The directions in his estate plan will then dictate who gets the automobile.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/26/2013
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