Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

How To Terminate a Consumer Lease Early

January 27, 2005

An age-old drawback to consumer leasing, according to a recent CBS MarketWatch report, is that it’s almost impossible to terminate a lease. Even if you die, your estate could owe monthly payments for the remaining term of the lease--unless the lessor is able to get more for the car at auction. But West Palm Beach, Fla., tax attorney Michael Lampert says he has been able to get around the penalty for clients with large leases by filing probate for the estate. He does this even if there's a trust involved. Probate law typically provides a time limit by which creditors must respond if they hope to stake a claim on an estate. In Florida, the deadline is 90 days, according to the report."They almost never respond in time," Lampert told CBS. "Right now, I'm finding that they send (the letter) to the legal department and the legal department puts it in a stack of things to deal with. Invariably, they'll miss the claims period." In the meantime, Lampert tells clients to keep the cars safe, insured and well-maintained. When the claims period expires, he sends a notice to the lessor to pick up the car.Unfortunately, there's never a guarantee that this strategy will work. If a lessor does respond within the claims period, the estate risks paying added legal fees, the report says.
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