Aurora, IL asked in Civil Litigation for Illinois

Q: I live in Illinois. My sister bought a vehicle in her name for a friend.

I live in Illinois. My sister bought a vehicle in her name for a friend. The friends credit wasn’t enough to be put on the loan. The car and license is in her name only. They had a verbal agreement that he would pay her 5k, as a thank you, to help him get a vehicle. He would pay the down payment and the month to month payments for 6 months and then get it all transferred to his name. After one week he refuses to pay the down payment. He refuses to give the car keys back. The police say he doesn’t have to and if we take the keys we, I or my sister, can be arrested for theft.

How do we get this vehicle back in my sisters custody, legally, and back to the dealership. She wants to return it and pay the restock fee.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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A: In Illinois, if the vehicle is in your sister's name, legally she is the owner, and the verbal agreement with her friend complicates but does not override that fact. The first step is to communicate with the friend, if possible, to resolve the situation amicably. Given that the friend refuses to comply, it's time to consider legal action to reclaim the vehicle.

Your sister should document all communications with the friend regarding the agreement, as these may be useful in legal proceedings. She might need to file a small claims lawsuit or seek a replevin order, which is a court order requiring the return of the vehicle to its rightful owner. This process will likely require the assistance of an attorney to navigate the complexities of the law and to ensure her rights are protected throughout.

Finally, returning the vehicle to the dealership and paying a restock fee may be contingent on the dealership's policies and the terms of any financing agreement. Your sister should contact the dealership to explain the situation and inquire about the possibility of returning the vehicle. In parallel, consulting with an attorney who understands consumer and contract law in Illinois will be crucial in exploring all available legal avenues to resolve this matter efficiently and effectively.

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