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Chris T., JD
Chris T., JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4788
Experience:  Experienced in both state and federal court.
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My husband has an old truck that he would like to sell or donate.

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My husband has an old truck that he would like to sell or donate. He lost the title years ago. Last month he filled out paperwork to obtain a new title. He found out that a lien had been put on the car by the previous owner. My husband bought the car over ten years ago, with cash, in three monthly payments. They filled out the title and my husband registered the car after the first payment. He then made the second two payments in the following two months(paying in full). We are assuming the seller put a lien on the car just in case my husband failed to make the final two payments. So what can we do now? We have no clue where the seller lives now, as he was planning on moving out of state which is why he sold the car in the first place. The car has been properly registered over the years and there are no tax debts. How do we get rid of this car?? No one will take it with a lien.

TexLawyer :

Good afternoon. I'll be assisting you with your question.

TexLawyer :

Have you made any efforts to locate the original owner? Are you sure you can't find him, or are you assuming you will be unable to? I ask because releasing the lien will be much simplier if you can find him, even if he won't release it himself.

Customer:

No we have not

TexLawyer :

OK. Do you still have his name? Also, was there a signed contract? If so, do you still have a copy?

Customer:

I will have to check with my husband. I know his name is XXXXX XXXXX with the DMV, but I won't be able to get that now. My husband said he has a very odd name and does not know how to spell it. He is unsure if there was a contract because it was so long ago. If he did have one it was lost with the title.

TexLawyer :

Thanks. You basically have three possibilities:

TexLawyer :

1) find the seller and get him to execute a release. He should have done this when the note was paid off, but it appears he forgot. Still, he can still do it even now. Clearly, this would be the easiest option.

TexLawyer :

2) If you can't find the seller, you will have to file a motion in court to have the judge remove the lien. If you can prove to the judge's satisfaction that the note has been paid, but the seller did not remove the lien in a timely manner and you are unable to locate him now, the judge has the authority to remove the lien himself.

TexLawyer :

3) If you can find the seller, but he refuses to remove the lien, you can sue him for "specific performance," which is a way in which a judge can require a person to perform a specific act. In this case, release the lien.

TexLawyer :

If you can find him, I'm sure he'll release the lien rather than deal with the inconvience of defending himself in a lawsuit.

TexLawyer :

The reason I was asking about whether or not you still have the contract is because it would provide some evidence of the original terms of the deal, and you could use your own bank records to prove that you made the payments (if you had to go with option #2 or 3).

Customer:

Okay, thanks for the advice but I already knew those options. I was hoping for some obscure legal answer that most don't know about.

TexLawyer :

No, there isn't a way to remove the lien without the consent of the seller or getting a judge to do it for you. Basically, your options are consent or lawsuit. Sorry, I wish there was some easy way to do it, but I suppose if there were, there wouldn't be much point in liens.

Customer:

I have a feeling it's going to be #2 that we go with. How does one file a motion with the judge? Can it be done w/o and attorney?

TexLawyer :

Yes, you can do it without an attorney. Here is a sample motion motion to release lien. Obviously, it is from a different state and you will have to alter is to fit your facts, but it will give you at least a basic place to start.

TexLawyer :

At the core, all you are doing is telling the judge what happened and what you would like done, and then back it up with some evidence, even if that's an affidavit from you or your husband attesting to the facts. Don't get too worried about all the legalese.

TexLawyer :

Here is the sample.

TexLawyer :

Also, if you aren't sure how to start looking for this person, here is a list of good websites to get you started.

Customer:

Okay, I noticed a filing fee of almost $500, which is more than the car is worth. Can we just abandon the vehicle or have it towed and just not retrieve it?

TexLawyer :

If the vehicle is worth less than $500, it may be worth more at a scrapyard. They pay by the pound, so you may get a couple hundred dollars for it. Also, you should consider selling it to a salvage yard.

Customer:

We tried to give it to a salvage place and they will not take it with a lien on the car. We're not looking to make money on this thing, just get rid of it legally so we are no longer liable for taxes and registration

TexLawyer :

You can get a certificate of destruction and sell it for scrap. The certificate of destruction will free you of any obligations related to the taxes and registration fees.

Customer:

Okay, I just spoke with an auto salvage place and he did not know what a "certificate of destruction" was but he did say we could sign a bill of sale w/o the title. He said we would still be responsible for the lien, but I'm not worried about the prevous seller ever contacting us. Does that sound right to you?

TexLawyer :

Here is the law on a junk certificate, but, yes what he's saying is correct, as well. I just thought they would not do it without some documentation.

TexLawyer :

Do you have any questions?

TexLawyer :

If so, feel free to ask. If not, please remember to "rate" my answer before you go.

Customer:

So I've read over the statute and I'm a little confused. Do I just take it to a salvage place, pay the small fee of $8.50 and they do the paperwork or do I have to submit a bunch of stuff.

TexLawyer :

They should submit it themselves.

Customer:

thanks for you help

TexLawyer :

Glad to help!

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