Can my car be taken to satisfy judgement against me if it is registered to someone else?

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Can my car be taken to satisfy judgement against me if it is registered to someone else?

I am thinking of buying a car but I have a large judgment against me. Can they take the car if I buy it but register it to someone else or in joint names? Als,o can they take the car when I still owe money on it?

Asked on February 4, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As an attorney I can not in any way advise you or guide you to avoid a creditor and to perpetrate a fraud against a creditor.  That would be breaking the law.  I can only explainthat a creditor can only attach assets that belong to you and can not attach assets that belong to another.  If property is held jointly, a creditor can attach your portion of the property which can cloud title and hinder transfer.  So, do you understand how things work with regard to joint liability on property?  Then you need to act accordingly.  But I urge you to consider trying to pay off your judgements.  Good luck to you.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If you buy it but register it to someone else, creditors may well be able to take the car. The issue would be whether they first suspect, then can prove, that you are the real owner of the car and the fact that it is registered to someone else is simply a pretext to try to defraud creditors. People can't avoid paying their debts by simply nominally putting assets in another's name.

2) If the car is financed and is securing the loan--e.g. it can be repossessed if you don't make car payments--that security interest would probably have priority over any other debts not specifically secured by the car. That means that as a practical matter, as long as you owe more on the car than its currently worth, other creditors probably can't and won't try to take the car, since they wouldn't get anything. Of course, if you're making payments on the car, that is evidence that you are the really owner and are trying to defraud your other creditors, which can lead to other liability or sanctions.


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