Q&A with Loraine: A car that was willed to me was sold before my father passed, do I have any recourse?

Question: I just found out that my deceased father left me a car in his Will. He had dementia, and some family members convinced him to sell the car before he died. Do I have any legal ways to get it back?

Loraine’s Answer: Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will be able to recover the car if your father sold it before he died, even if he had dementia when he sold it. Legally, a dementia diagnosis doesn’t automatically mean a person can no longer capably act for themselves or make decisions.

If the Will indeed states that you were supposed to receive the car, you may be entitled to something of equal value. Your rights will depend on how the Will is written and state law where you live.

It’s a good idea to have an attorney assist you with determining your rights and any legal recourse.

Key Estate Planning Takeaway: A person who has a dementia diagnosis may still have the legal capacity to sell or give away an asset during his or her lifetime. If the person’s Will contains a specific bequest of an item that was sold or given away by the person during his or her lifetime, then whether the beneficiary of that bequest becomes entitled to an item of equal value after the person’s death or whether the bequest simply becomes ineffective depends on how the Will is written and, possibly, on applicable state law.

This “Q&A with Loraine” blog series features answers from Morgan + DiSalvo Partner Loraine DiSalvo to common questions. A key takeaway from each exchange highlights an important facet of estate planning.

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