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My mother has been separated for 20 years and recently passed away. Can I prove that they are separated without paperwork?

Auburn, NY |

My mother passed away in October of 2012, and left her car with me. She never legally wrote it in her will or put the title in my name, and she is separated. I'm not sure if it's a legal separation or not, but I cannot sell the car until can put the title in my name. They haven't communicated in over 20 years. How would I prove the car should legally be mine?

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Attorney answers 3


The proper person to handle a matter such as this is the person who as been appointed to administer your mother's estate. If an administrator was never appointed you would have to petition the surrogate's court for letters of administration that would permit you to sell the car. As for putting the car into your name, that would depend on whether there was anyone else who had a valid claim to the car, such as any siblings. You should consult with a competent local estate attorney before you do anything further.

My answer does not constitute legal advice and may not be relied upon by anyone for any purpose and does not constitute an attorney/client relationship or an offer to form such a relationship. This disclaimer is intended to be fully compliant with the requirements of Treasury Department Circular 230 and the terms thereof are fully incorporated by reference. If you wish to consult with me please contact me at dana@nytaxcounsel or visit my website at


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If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or


You need to contact an estate lawyer for help with this.