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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  JD, MBA
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Wife died and the car loan was in her name only. I live in

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Wife died and the car loan was in her name only. I live in a community property state. Can Icontinue to pay off the loan or can I just return the car since the loan isn't in my name.
Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you. I'm so sorry to hear about your wife's passing. I'll do my best to give you straight answers.

As a general rule, lenders will not take any action if the loan is being paid. So, as Nissan told you, if you want to continue paying and keep the car, then that shouldn't be a problem. If you don't want the car, then Nissan should accept the car back so that it can sell the car and apply the proceeds to the loan. If there is a surplus after the sale, then that money should go to your wife's estate (and ultimately to you). But if there is a deficiency (i.e., the proceeds from the car's sale does not cover the loan), then Nissan would be able to go after your wife's estate and community property. It would not be able to go after your separate property. I'll quote the actual law below:

D. Except as prohibited in section 25-214, either spouse may contract debts and otherwise act for the benefit of the community. In an action on such a debt or obligation the spouses shall be sued jointly and the debt or obligation shall be satisfied: first, from the community property, and second, from the separate property of the spouse contracting the debt or obligation.

As you can see, it does not allow for your separate property to used to satisfy the debt.

Does that answer your question? Please let me know if you need clarification, as I am happy to continue helping you until you are satisfied. Also, your positive feedback is much appreciated. Thank you for using our service!

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

does the separate property also include bank accts/401k in my name only

Hi again.

Separate property is property that was a gift, inherited, or obtained prior to the marriage. Anything else is community property, even if only your name was on an account.
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