Can the personal representative of a decedent, drive the decedents car?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can the personal representative of a decedent, drive the decedents car?

My brother is the personal representative for my mothers trust. My mother did not leave her car to any of her named heirs in her trust. The trust states, ‘Any personal property not distributed pursuant to the above-referenced list only things on the list were real estate shall be distributed to my children as they agree.’ My brother had used my mothers car many, many times before her death, because he doesn’t have his own vehicle. He hasen’t asked any of us about using her car. The car is still titled and insured under my mothers name. He has no insurance for himself. I am guessing he can use the car for ‘trust business’, but is he legally allowed to drive her car for personal reasons?

Asked on October 17, 2018 under Estate Planning, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You have identified the crux of matters: as the representative for the trust, he can use trust property (like the car) for trust purposes, but not for his own personal business or purpsoses. That's the law. As a practical matter, to stop him from doing this would take a lawsuit filed in chancery court (a division or part of county court) seeking a court order barring him from doing this. Given the likely value of a used car (unless it is an exotic car or valuable antique), it is not likely worth the cost or effort to better preserve the car for the trust and its beneficiaries. That said, he should make sure it has insurance in his or the trust's name, to protect him and/or the trust in the event of an accident: insurance in the name of a deceased person will not likely pay out in the event of an accident.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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