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Is there any way to keep a vehicle that is collateral to a loan of my deceased father?

George West, TX |

My father unexpectedly passed away a few weeks ago. Six months before he did, he gave me his Harley motorcycle when he purchased a new one. Problem is, it wasn't his to give as it still has a $25K loan on it. His intention was to pay off the loan and give me the title, but he never got the chance. I tried to take over the debt but Harley Credit won't let me without court papers saying I'm executor/ administrator. To get those, I imagine I'd have to probate the estate. Unfortunately, there are more debts than assets, so I don't want to take on the estate as I have nothing to gain. My father didn't have a will or spouse. He lived in Texas and I, his first born child, live in Florida, where the bike is now. Is there any way to obtain the bike out of the estate so I can keep the gift?

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Attorney answers 3


There may be. Many states have laws that allow the next of kin to transfer title to motor vehicles outside of probate, if there is not going to be a probate estate. Depending where the vehicle is registered, you should contact the DMV in that state and see if this is a possibility.

The finance company tends not to care, as long as payments continue to be made.

James Frederick

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I concur with Attorney Frederick. Check with a probate attorney in the state he passed away to obtain the necessary forms.


As Mr. Frederick stated, there may be a way to transfer the motorcycle to you. However, if your dad had debts, and the motorcycle is secured by a UCC or lien, then that secured party will be able to repossess or sell the motorcycle to get their payment. Similarly, if there are other creditors, they may open an estate in order to sell whatever estate property there is to get paid back as much as they can. The motorcycle would probably be subject to those creditors claims as well.
You should consult a probate attorney in Texas to discuss your options and assist you further.

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