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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 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.


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