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Uncertainty pertaining to family vehicles

I have a bit of a problem on my hands that I was hoping to have someone help me understand better. I believe the year was 2006 or 2007 (I would have to view the Bill of Sales) my grandfather, who passed away in 2008, signed a bill of sale for several vehicles he either owned, or had possession of, to me. These vehicles included a 1963 Chevrolet C10, a 1972 Dodge Dart Custom, and a 1977 Oldsmobile Delta 88. I know for a fact the '63 Chevy belonged to my grandfather. I think the '72 Dodge belonged to his mother originally and no one wanted it so he came to collect it, and the '77 Oldsmobile belonged to my grandmother, (his wife.) I still have the Bill of Sales to these vehicles. They are all junk vehicles (really hate calling them that) or vehicles I would like to restore. I never had a place to take them to before, or the means to do it until recently. As if things weren’t complicated enough, someone illegally obtained his land, then turned around and sold it. The vehicles, all except the '63 Chevy, are gone. Am I within right to contact the police about the '72 Dodge and '77 Oldsmobile so that I can reclaim them? I personally know the person that owns the land now and am going to ask about the '63 Chevy and my dad had a truck on that land that is in his name and will be reported as stolen so that it can be found. I am just curious about all of this because I plan on letting the guy know that I have a bill of sale for the '63 Chevy, and if I can I’d like to recover these old vehicles that belonged, or were maybe passed down through my family. If anyone can give me guidance on this subject I would greatly appreciate it, and I know not to have a lot of hope on this matter. I wouldn’t be surprised if every vehicle, except the '63 Chevy, was scrap metal by now. I appreciate the input and guidance. If there are any other questions I will do my best to answer them as quickly as possible. Thank you.

This is really a legal question not a car question so you really need legal guidance. I’m not sure how someone illegally obtains the land though and then is able to sell it. Maybe they sold it with just a quit claim deed so really the new owner has nothing, I dunno. I do think though that you had some duty to take possession of the cars as all this was going on or to at least inform whoever was occupying the land that they were yours or they could have been considered abandoned. But yeah, you need a lawyer and also need to discuss this with whoever the executor was of your grandfather’s estate.

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I second Bings advice, this is a legal question so you need an attorney but climbing out on a limb …

  1. If you have a clean Bill of Sale for the Chevy and you know where it is, reclaiming it should be nothing more than presenting your proof of ownership to the holder and towing it away.
  2. There’s a legal procedure for disposing of abandoned property which generally results in the car being scrapped. If you have the time, money and want to make the effort you can generally track the paperwork to see if it was properly done and where it went to…
  3. Again, if you have proof of ownership you can certainly file a stolen property report with the police but again, if it was legally transferred you may not be able to reclaim it.

And for a dose of reality, time and weather aren’t friendly to a car left sitting for years and a proper restoration is expensive, frequently exceeding the value of the car so don’t get your hopes too high.

Why would someone think that anything from unknown persons on a Forum would be useful in this legal question ?

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I agree. This is a legal matter that likely varies state by state. I would think that a lawyer might not charge more than a few hundred bucks for a brief consultation on applicable laws and then contact the police if possible.
If that Dart is a 2 Door then that would bug me to no end. Mopars are pretty collectible and can bring a bit of money. The Chevy too.

Here in OK, the legal owner of the property can have an abandoned vehicle towed off of their property if the vehicle has been abandoned more than 48 hours. However, that vehicle cannot be removed until a number of legal hoops are jumped through. Forms in quadruplicate with the state, land owner, towing company, etc. I’m sure every state has bureaucratic rules in place and a lawyer, and police, could sort this out.
If they screwed up illegally and scrapped the vehicles your only option might be a civil suit.

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I was a lawyer for years and years, and occasionally people would come to me with stories like this one. I’d listen to them for a while, ask some questions, and then tell them that I couldn’t do much. You have waited too long to do anything unless you have some way to prove ownership. A Bill of Sale to you isn’t proof. The State has rules and you never “perfected title”. And how is anyone to know if the bill of sale is actually signed by your grandfather? It’s for these reasons that States have laws to regulate and apply order to the ownership of vehicles. In addition, are you really saying that waiting 13 or 14 years to try and get this truck isn’t just too long? I think you abandoned it long ago.

The land problem is even sketchier because transfers of ownership of land have to be in writing and have to be recorded in official records. Transfers because of death are probate matters and either they happen or they don’t. If you never got title, it’s likely never been yours to dispute. And if you waited 12 years to ask this question a court is gong to wonder what took so long.

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Beyond just the judge “wondering”, don’t you think that he/she would likely apply the principle of Laches and refuse to even hear the case?

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And there is also the Statue of Limitations which I believe to be in most states 2 to 3 years or so and the issue of what happened to the titles along with why was this not spelled out in a will.
A legal fight could easily cost more than what the cars are worth though.

If the Dart was a 4 door I’d probably throw in the towel… :nauseated_face:

It was just something I was putting up for discussion is all. Thanks.

Just to answer a few questions. When these vehicles were signed over to me I didn’t have a place to put them. My grandfather and step-grandmother lived together and on the same property. When he passed, naturally the land went to her, as it should have. She was ok with the vehicles being there. A “friend” of hers got power of attorney over her, durable POA for her money, non-durable POA for assets, lands, and other valuables. Long story short, the “friend” took most, if not all, of her money, to go on trips out of country and do what she wanted to do. It got to the point where my step-grandmother was running down the street in her underwear screaming for help in the middle of the night. Finally, the lady had my step-grandmother put in a home or hospital and never let any of us know. We had no idea she was that bad off, or what had even happened to her. The friend then signed over the two pieces of property to herself and that was that. I’m assuming someone thought she had a durable POA or no one knew my step-grandmother was deemed mentally incompetent, and yes, an investigation was done into her stare of mind and at the time those lands were sold she was deemed so. I reached out to the lady to speak about the vehicles and she never replied to.me.or anything. Then she sold the land for $40,000 to another person.

Thankfully, I know the person and he may have the vehicles. I am going to speak with him, but that is the reason why there was so much time had passed. If I were even able to recover them and restore them at this point, it would be a labor of love. It would be about honoring family through a skill or trade that applies to what was once theirs. It never has been about how much they were worth in dollars.

I agree that this was a better legal question than one for an automobile forum, but sadly on any forum you run into the same problem. People want to belittle you for asking a question, or for things they don’t know, and rather than ask they just put you down and knock you down lower. It was one of the reasons why I was hesitant to even post this here in the first place.

P.s. The Dart is a 4 door, haha, but it has a 318 in it and those are good motors. :joy::joy::joy:

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As far as I know, a bill of sale doesn’t help anything. The title of the vehicle is what proves ownership. Without a state title, there’s no way to prove that the cars were grandpa’s to sell in the first place. But I’m a mechanic, not a lawyer.

You grandfather’s wife probably found the vehicle titles and sold the vehicles. If there were no titles you can’t claim these vehicles. If the person that possess the truck has a title you might consider making an offer to purchase it, as it sits you have no legal right to it.

As for the real estate, the proceeds likely went to pay for the nursing home care, she can’t (unknowingly) gift her property to someone and have the government pay for these expenses.

Well not to drift away from cars but this is a good lesson for all. If you give away POA be very careful who it goes to. My Dad’s lawyer told me later that that’s why he gave me POA and not my sister. He trusted me to carry out his wishes. When selling his house though I needed to provide a copy of the POA to verify I had authority to sign. What a tangled web. Gauls me to no end that someone would do this to someone else.

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Many early 70’s Darts were junk when new.

If you thought they were trash, why want them back?

The reasons why I would like them back is because of my grandfather wanting them to go to me/signing over the vehicles to me and also that they were family vehicles and I’m extremely interested in vehicles. I’m wanting to go to school to become a mechanic and welder. I ultimately want to restore old vehicles and have a shop of my own one day, but I figured it would be really cool to restore these old vehicles that my family used to own.

I know for a fact she never even cared about the vehicles. As far as the real estate goes, actually the lady went to my step-grandmother and told her she needed to sell her house and other property because “the state was trying to take it.” She then “sold” it to herself, and in turn sold one piece to someone, and pocketed $40,000 off of it and kept the other piece.

Well good luck but I really think you need to have a conversation with a lawyer and I’m not sure that should be the last stop. People have a duty to keep the best interest of the people they represent in mind. This sounds like it crossed over into the area of fraud and elder abuse and I think the lawyer should at least have a conversation with the DA.

I forget the details and I was already retired but a guy I had worked with had the same relationship with his mother as she required care. Only problem was he wrote checks to himself as payment for services. His sister turned him in and he did avoid jail time but is now a felon. He never really told me the details and just got it second hand and from the court records, but we were talking about hunting at a reunion and he said he couldn’t own a gun anymore because of his record.

People often see the role of a lawyer as someone who makes things more complicated and charges good money to do it. I guess it looks that way from the outside looking in, but after a few years I learned that, no matter what people think should happen, it rarely does without setting things up carefully and clearly. Without some planning and reducing ideas to writing so they last longer than we do, Courts end up with situations where people find they can’t work out their disagreements, and courts create decisions. It can be painful.

The grandfathers wife is an in-law, the OP has no interest in the estate. Even if state law linked any inheritance to the OP it would have been consumed by the elder care costs.

Anyone that would hire a lawyer to obtain scrap metal should be fitted with a straight jacket.

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I’m not suggesting that he would have any financial gain from it, just that someone should review what was done for the sake of justice. And the grandfather’s wife is a step-grandmother not an in-law I believe. At least I didn’t consider my step-mother an in law and would have certainly stepped in and had legal standing if someone was trying to steal her property. I’m not saying the cars aren’t junk and there is no money to be gained. This is about justice not money.

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