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Can my 86 year old father be sued for a car rental agreement now that he is in a nursing home?

Charleston, SC |

My father in Ohio was back in an apartment after being in a nursing home for several years, for less than a year, thinking he was ok to take care of himself. He leased a car and has now had to go into a nursing home. My sister says that the car dealer will not take back the car and will sue my father and take his income so that he won't be able to be in the nursing home anymore. He cannot care for himself and they accepted him in the nursing home to be there on Medicare.
I cannot fathom why they wouldn't take the car back. It is less that a year old, maybe around 6 months since he got it. He will have nowhere to go if he cannot live in the nursing home. There is no family that can quit their jobs to take care of his needs and also the care that is required.

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Attorney answers 4


Your father signed a contract and a new car is devalued considerably during the first six months. That is why the dealer won't take it back. The car that was worth 23,000 new may be worth only 15, 000 when its a year old. The lease likely has a prepayment penalty, which perhaps the family can absorb as a group. Another option would be for a family member to assume the lease.

If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email -


The car dealer is thinking of this solely from a contractual and financial standpoint and considering only those things, unfortunately they are in the right. They don't make decisions considering ethics, morals or feelings and I believe that's what you're experiencing.

I'm sorry to hear of your dilemma and wish you the best of luck.


If your father’s only source of income is Medicare then the car dealer cannot garnish it. Since your father did sign a car lease, it is a binding contract. However, you should talk with a local elder law attorney to see if your father was taken advantage of by the car dealer. Almost every town has those car dealers who do/say anything for a sale.

You may be able to void the contract if this happened.

Good luck.

DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.


Medicaid and Medicare funds are not subject to garnishment or attachment, pursuant to federal law. However, it is possible that your father could be sued for the balance owed on the rental agreement unless you can find a way out of the contract. I suggest that you and your siblings contact an Elder care attorney in your area and see what suggestions he or she may have to best protect your dad.

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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.