Detroit, MI asked in Consumer Law and Contracts for Michigan

Q: In Mi, My friends husband, co-signed for a 2014 car. The original purchaser, stopped paying, so co-signer took car back

Co-signer has passed away, May 10, 2021. Wife came to me, discussing financial issues, asked me if I wanted to purchase car. I gave her $500.00 as a downpayment, wrote up a sales agreement, we both signed. It stated the money paid, amt due for complete pay-off, July 1st, 2021.

She phones me 2 days later, telling me what we were doing is illegal, She needs the car back. I asked her if she had my $500.00 and she said no. I said well, when you have my money we can make an exchange.

She went on to say, well, then I get to charge you by the day. I hung up on her. Day later, She phoned me to say, I caused her to break out with shingles. This girl????

Do I have any type of civil case?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: Yes, quite likely, but against your friend. Your first priority should be to determine who actually owns the car - whose name is on the title? Because if it's the person who the husband co-signed for, that person could claim the car stolen. OR, the bank or whomever made the original loan could repossess it. Either way, you could be without a car. If the husband owned it and still owes a debt on it, than the car is estate property, and still subject to the claims of the underlying creditor. Presumptuously, his wife / your friend, will be the personal representative to handle that. Assuming she has not already opened the estate and has letters of authority, then she has no legal right to enter into any sort of agreement with you or anyone else concerning the car. Your transaction, then, would be voidable, which is legally distinct from being illegal. Still, you may end up in a situation where you'll have to turn over the car to someone soon, and you'd likely have a claim to make against your friend because she entered into an agreement to sell you something she didn't have the right to.

There's probably only one safe approach for you: Give the car back to her and tell her you expect your money back soon or you'll file a small claims action against her. If anyone else contacts you about the car (e.g. original owner or the bank), tell them your friend has the car and to deal with her.

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