In January 2011, my 1988 station wagon refused to start during a snowstorm. My wife and I went online and contacted one of those Cash for Junk Cars companies, and they offered us $350 for the vehicle. Upon pick up, we had the driver sign a bill of sale, but we did not have it notarized. We received the money, handed over the title, and the car was no longer our problem. Fast forward six months. We received a notice from a law firm working for the city of Chicago. That car had been abandoned and incurred $2,800 in fines. The problem: It was still in my name, and I was being sued for the sum of the fines. They offered us a settlement of $700. We declined and faxed them a copy of the bill of sale. They never replied, and we thought the matter closed. Six weeks ago, the accountant at my work tells me that my wages are being garnished. They are going to take $400 a month until it's paid off. At this point, I contacted the towing company, which resulted in many insults getting hurled back and forth. I have tried to contact the law firm but haven't been able to. My question is: How do I make this stop? I cannot afford this garnishment. The law firm is not responding; the towing company is denying everything. I have a bill of sale with a signature, but no notary stamp. Please help! -- Alija from Chicago, Ill.
This stinks! Here is a link to the Illinois Secretary of State office that provides printable forms and an online application for vehicle transactions: http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/vehicles/titleandregistration/apply.html. You are required to complete a Seller's Report of Sale, an Odometer Disclosure Statement and sign over the title. The buyer then needs to go to the Secretary of State's office to take certain steps to complete the transfer of title. I don't see anything requiring a notary. I suspect that the transfer of title requirements were not completed and that, technically, you are still on the hook for the car. These people must have filed a lawsuit against you and obtained a judgment in order to garnish your wages. You should have received notice of the lawsuit. It doesn't sound like you were personally served, so they may have published the service. This means they put a legal ad in a newspaper for a certain amount of time. You could try and get the court to stop the garnishment. You could try and renegotiate with the law firm, but they now have the upper hand. Let this be a lesson to anyone selling a car in Illinois.
I've just gotten my husband approved for Medicaid. He has Alzheimer's, and I need some help with him. I've been told that if my husband predeceases me, Medicaid will come to me for reimbursement of funds that they have spent for him. Is that true? I've been advised that, because of that, I should change my house deed to my children's names so it won't be in jeopardy. Do you have any advice about this situation? -- Marian from Hampton, Va.
You are smart to check into this because there are things you might do to destroy your husband's Medicaid eligibility. There are ways to split assets and get some protection. This is a tricky field and only someone who specializes in Elder law should be advising you. Do not take advice from anyone else but an experienced Elder law attorney. Here is the link to the website for the Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys: http://www.vaela.org. Go to the website, and click on the "For the General Public" tab. This is a nonprofit organization, and their purpose is to educate their members and others about issues just like yours.
Can you tell me what the consequences for discontinuing to pay my maintenance fees for a timeshare could be? The selling point of a less expensive vacation has evaporated with the rapidly escalated annual cost maintenance. Now that I'm retired, I find the fees to be onerous and never-ending. I would like to find a way to remove this albatross from around my neck. I've attended a time share transfer seminar, and it is obviously merely an extension of the time share sales industry. Any thoughts? -- Doug from Miami, Fla.
My research tells me that you are not alone in your position regarding timeshare value versus maintenance fees. The fees are the top reason owners want to dump their timeshares. The only way to remove this "albatross" is to sell it, rent it, give it away or work something out with the timeshare company. The specifics of not paying the fees will be in your contract. In general, some of the kinds of consequences are that the utilities can be shut off, or the resort owner can take back the timeshare (foreclosure). One of the biggest impacts would be to your credit. A foreclosure would hurt your credit score for 7 years. If they foreclose and sell it again, they can sue you for the difference. Before you just walk away, find a good real estate/timeshare attorney and consult them on this issue.
(Jackie Glass is a lawyer and former district court judge from Las Vegas, Nev. Submit your legal questions to Jackie by emailing email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @theJudgeGlass. This column is being provided for informational purposes only. It may not be relied upon by you as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.)