Can mother keep car after daughter makes the payments

Dear Experian,

I just finished making a final payment on my car. However, the car is under my mom’s name. She is refusing to transfer ownership of the car to my name now that it has been paid off. What legal actions can I take? Or does this mean that I have to give the car back to her?



Dear KHW,

Unfortunately, if the credit contract is in your mother’s name, along with the title and registration, the car may technically belong to her, even though you made the payments.

The loan and its payment history will appear only on her credit report if you were not listed as a cosigner or joint borrower. It’s important that you be included as one of the people responsible for the debt in the loan documents so that the loan and the payment history will be included in your credit report.

Equally important, being listed in the loan documents also would indicate you have some ownership claims to the car. If the loan documents, title and registration do not list you, you may not have any claim to the car beyond your verbal agreement with your mother.

You should speak to a qualified attorney about the verbal agreement. An attorney can help you determine whether or not the agreement is binding and can give you good legal advice with regard to actions that you might be able to take in order to enforce the it.

Document the payments you made, if possible. Copies of checks signed by you or your checking account statements might be very helpful.

Unfortunately, your situation is a good example of why you should always get things in writing, even with family members.

Thanks for asking.

- The “Ask Experian” team

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