Who would be liable for a car accident if the car was not in my name but I share an asset with the owner?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Who would be liable for a car accident if the car was not in my name but I share an asset with the owner?

My fiancé of 23 years passed away last month without a Will. We own a house in both of our names. She and her granddaughter had a car in both of their names. Now her granddaughter wants to come and get the car. I don’t want to be liable for damages should she get involved in an accident and lose the house. What should I do?

Asked on December 21, 2016 under Estate Planning, Kentucky


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

When your finance passed, the house, which was in both your names, became yours alone; the car, which was in her name and that of her granddaughter, became the granddaughter's alone. (When assets or property are jointly titled, when one joint owner dies, the other becomes  sole owner). There is therefore no connection between the car and you or your home now. Had the granddaughter gotten into an accident when your fiance was alive, then she--as one of the owners--could have been liable (if the granddaugher was at fault; liability in car accidents depens on fault); then the home, as an asset of a liable person, could have been at risk. But her passing, and the home and car becoming solely owned, respectively, by you and the granddaughter, severed the connection between car and home.

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