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Signed and dated car title to father 3 years ago but never registered.

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  • Signed and dated car title to father 3 years ago but never registered.

    I signed over a car to my father 3 years ago, but he never registered it as he got sick from a rare disease and was even hospitalized for a short time. He gave me money for the car years prior when I was in college and when I wanted to sell it he said he would take the car as payment for the loan I never paid back. The car is worth maybe 30K as it held its value well.

    I removed insurance and plates right after the sale three years ago. The car has been sitting for three years uninsured, not inspected, and unregistered at my fathers house where I live also.

    He never registered the car and only has the signed and dated title from 2015. There is no law in NY that says you need to register the car right away so a signed title is enough to show ownership. This is what you would do if you sold any car privately, you sign the title over to the person.

    Will they consider this my car in bankruptcy?

    Basically I signed over the title to him and he just never registered it.

    What happens if I don't mention the car because it was done a few years back. Will the trustee find this title still in my name from DMV records and say the car is mine. I will say that since the date I signed it over I turned in the plates and never used it, or insured it.

    Thanks for any advice or help here.
    Last edited by Lostall; 02-18-2018, 04:12 PM.

  • #2
    You will need to disclose that you are holding property that belongs to someone else. In most States, the owner shown on the face of the title, is the owner of record for purposes of bankruptcy. What you have is bare legal title to the vehicle. Your father has equitable (I think they also call this equitable title) to the vehicle. You will need to show proof of the sale (which doesn't appear you have proof of the sale). Also, since you said that your father kept the vehicle in exchange for an unsecured loan, that could also be something that needs explaining. There wasn't a sale in fact, but rather a transfer of ownership.

    Things that make me wonder -- and probably the Trustee? The title could have been signed at any time prior to filing (how do you prove that fact unless it was notarized?). The vehicle also sits at the same location as you are located, has not been driven by anyone but you (you're the last one to drive it?), and there's no record of a prior loan and there's no proof that you transferred the loan for fair market value to satisfy this other loan.

    Since this is a "juicy" asset, I would make sure I used an attorney to file and that this specific question is asked. You should obtain 3-5 free consultations and have this question addressed during that free consultation.

    Sorry, but this raises more questions than I have the answers.
    Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
    Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
    Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog


    I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks, yes it is an odd situation and I can see the issues with it because I could have signed it anytime after. The only proof I have of selling it is turning in the plates and removing the insurance and not driving it since.

      If I never even mentioned this car since I consider it sold when I signed and dated the title and my fathers information was put on the back of it and my father will say this happened. It isn't my fault he didn't register it. If I have done this with somebody from craigslist I would have done the same thing and not even mention it on my bankruptcy forms. I don't see why I should even bring it up under the circumstances if it isn't in the time period of a related party transfer which has to be listed, I believe which is 2 years.

      My big question is if I just don't mention this at all would this definitely be found by the trustee in the record search to where it makes sense to mention it? I'm not worried if they find it because I will then show them that I signed and dated the title, turned in plates also years ago. If they want to say I did fraud then I'll fight this in criminal court, and let them prove how I signed it recently and not 3 years ago to a jury. Hard to believe a jury will find me guilty when there is no way to prove this and I also stopped using the car for years and turned in the plates and removed insurance.

      Again, thanks for the help, just trying to gather the best way to go about this. I really need to know if the trustee will access the DMV database and this car will still be under my name. I don't want my father knowing I have to declare bankruptcy.

      Comment


      • #4
        If you did this with someone from Craig's list, you would have a bill of sale, their signature, and other documentation memorializing the sale. We caution people transferring title to any vehicle. Even for a relative, you should both go to the DMV and have the title changed, or at least file an equivalent declaration, at the DMV, at or near the time the transaction occurred.

        I mean, how would the Trustee know if it weren't registered in another State? The problem will be that if the Trustee does a property search in your State, and finds the vehicle, you'll have a lot more explaining to do. The fact that you have a dated title means nothing, again, because it isn't otherwise memorialized that it occurred at or around the time of the transaction. There are debtors that do this to hide property from creditors and even the Trustee. How is the Trustee to distinguish? Who leaves a vehicles stores for 3 years that is worth $30K? So many questions.

        The burden to prove that the writing on the un-perfected title was done at, near, or around the time of the transfer, is your burden.

        You really need to consult a licensed professional practicing in your State. The Trustee has access to all sorts of tools, just like any skip-trace or debt collector would have to find property. Whether or not the Trustee would find this or, if found, the Trustee would go to the end of the earth to undue the undated transfer, is speculative. I just don't know. The title is the issue and the issues of un-perfected titles and beneficial interest have taxed courts for years.

        Here's a seminal case in Florida is [URL="http://pacer.flmb.uscourts.gov/fwxflmb/opn/getopn.fwx?id=71588876&kid=09708412106412411010107 5'}In Re John Dargon Stanton, III in an adversary proceeding where the Trustee sued the United States of America[/URL]. This has no bearing on NY law (if that's where you're from).

        Here's a case from NY where the "bare legal title" and "equittable" interest did not work between father and son... https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCOUR...ap-01061-0.pdf

        I can't tell you if what I write and the NY or Florida cases have any impact on your specific facts. Only that it is an issue almost certainly because you have an un-authenticated date on a title which was never transferred and perfected ownership of the vehicle in your dad's name.
        Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
        Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
        Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog


        I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.

        Comment


        • #5
          More importantly, if he had sold the vehicle to someone on Craigslist--even if that person never transferred title or registered it, he wouldn't have the vehicle to turn over, and the trustee would be unable to locate it. Even if the paperwork from the sale was lost, the burden would be on the trustee to prove that the filer still owns and is concealing the vehicle. The burden would not be on the filer to prove a negative, i.e. to prove that he does not own the vehicle.

          The biggest problem here is that the sale was to a family member, and the vehicle is physically located at the same address where the filer lives! Without a notarized bill of sale, or other documentation proving that the sale took place 3 years ago, who's to say that the title isn't being transferred now, in order to "shield" the asset from the trustee? It will be up to the filer to prove otherwise.

          Comment


          • #6
            The problem with the Craiglist scenario, and has been a problem here even in Florida, usually comes from liability not from the location of a vehicle. I may have conflated the liability issue with the "where is the vehicle" issue. The issue is squarely that this was transferred to an insider, without any proof that the transfer occurred at, near or around the date/time shown on the face of the title, and that the vehicle is still located in the same location. That's the real issue.
            Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
            Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
            Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog


            I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.

            Comment


            • #7
              Most DMVs have a record of vehicle sold. This is what gets the liability off the seller. I donated a vehicle to charity and six months later got a parking ticket for it. I sent in the copy of the "dismissal of liability" or "BILL OF SALE" or whatever the form was called that I'd sent in to the DMV. Case closed.

              when the OP turned in the plates, how was this done? Were the plates mailed or delivered to DMV? There's probably a record of that at the DMV. It might be worth it to ask for a copy of the current title from DMV. Has the father insured the asset or acknowledged it through a will, email, text message, or any trace in communications?

              Comment


              • #8
                I turned in the plates to the DMV to get a certificate form them in order to cancel insurance with Geico. They do give you a form for it which I may still have.

                Unfortunately my father never registered the vehicle because of his medical condition and there was no point in doing that because he would then have to deal with paying insurance on it while he was not able to drive it. It has been sitting in the garage for about 3 years unused.

                Are you saying if I did have a bill of sale written up at the time, also with the signed and dated tile with my father as the buyer on the back of the title, this would help prove that the car was not mine?

                My father also kept a diary back when he lent me the money for the car about 17 years ago, I believe it may even have the amount he lent me for the car at that time. Not that this helps anything but just shows that he lent me the money for it which I never paid him back so I just gave him the car when I needed to get rid of it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Please remember that these are all issues related to what "may" cause the Trustee to probe into this transaction. For an "arms length transaction" -- selling to a stranger -- the bill of sale signed at the time of the transfer would work. However, this is an insider transaction and the Trustee "may" look at it suspiciously. The facts that you presented are what make it interesting. The Trustee in your case may not even care. The fact is that you have at least "bare legal title" to the vehicle and you will have to disclose that fact.
                  Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
                  Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
                  Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog


                  I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lostall View Post
                    I turned in the plates to the DMV to get a certificate form them in order to cancel insurance with Geico. They do give you a form for it which I may still have.
                    The DMV or GEICO probably has a copy of the form too. Was the loan/car transaction for the approximate value of the car or was it for far less?

                    you might take a copy of what you have in to a free consult with a bankruptcy lawyer or a Q&A session with the local self help section of the bankruptcy court and hear what they have to say or suggest.

                    Comment

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