Legislation Would Prevent Surviving Spouses, Children from Being Held Responsible for Payments
The full Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Raj Mukherji, Jamel Holley and Joe Danielsen to allow the termination of a car lease if the lessee passes away.
“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-2495) 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.”
The legislation now awaits consideration by the Senate.