The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley, Joe Danielsen, Benjie Wimberly, and Angela McKnight to allow the termination of a car lease if the lessee passes away on Monday.

“When someone dies before the end of their lease agreement, grieving family members are unfortunately left to worry about paying the remaining balance and fees,” said Lampitt (D-Burlington/Camden). “This can leave people who neither signed a lease nor agreed to be co-signers suddenly liable for thousands of dollars in charges. It’s unfair and unacceptable, especially in the wake of such a loss.”

The bill (A-1843) would allow the termination of a motor vehicle lease in event of the lessee’s death upon return of the vehicle to the dealer or lessor and would prohibit the imposition of fees for early termination of the lease. The measure also would prohibit a lease from requiring a surviving family member, guardian or estate administrator to purchase the vehicle, continue leasing the vehicle or buy out the remainder of the lease.

“Much like we did when it comes to forgiving student loan debt in the event of someone’s passing, the death of a car lessee is a special case and should be treated as such,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Returning the lease and nullifying the contract is a common sense move.”

“Creditors often put early termination clauses in contracts in order to protect their assets, but the death of a loved one is an extenuating circumstance and certainly should not be bound by that clause,” said Holley (D-Union). “This is a practical and compassionate policy.”

“The last thing grieving family members should have to deal with is the burden of shouldering their loved one’s automobile loans in the wake of their passing,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “This will make sure they are not saddled with this additional strain.”

“There are many responsibilities that fall on a grieving family after someone’s death,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Eliminating unnecessary stresses and costs is important, and this bill will help to bring an extra sense of relief to loved ones knowing these financially and emotionally burdening tasks would not exist.”

“Early termination fees for a car lease could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “It is simply wrong and cold for a dealer or lessor to charge loved ones this kind of money if they have experienced such a devastating loss.”