Letters: The finer points of estate law

Re "Death doesn't end car lease obligation," Column, March 21

The widow in David Lazarus' piece on Toyota trying to recover money on a car lease after her husband died is likely not liable. She may have received her husband's assets, but she is not his estate. His estate is made up only of the assets in his name alone.



Car lease: A March 23 letter to the editor on a widow's dealings with Toyota after her husband died misspelled writer Kevin Staker's surname as Staver.

In cases in which all assets are held as joint tenants or in a joint living trust, the surviving joint tenant or surviving spouse is not liable for the debts of the decedent without clear and convincing evidence otherwise. I cannot even imagine what such evidence could be.

If the husband had an asset in his name alone that was transferred to his wife, Toyota could open up a probate, make a claim and then file suit. Such actions would cost thousands and thousands of dollars, an amount Toyota would likely not incur for a debt of less than $3,000.

The widow probably just needs to ignore Toyota and it will go away.

Kevin Staver


The writer is a trusts and estates attorney.