NEW JERSEY – The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee recently 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.
“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,” Lampitt (D-Burlington/Camden) said. “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-1601) 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 forgiving student loan debt in the event of someone’s passing, the death of a car lessee is another special circumstance that should require debt cancellation to ensure families are not taking on an extra burden,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Returning the lease and nullifying the contract is a common sense move.”
“Creditors often put early termination clauses in contracts 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 worry of having to shoulder 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 burden.”
“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 bring financial relief to loved ones.”
“Early termination fees for a car lease could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars,” said McKnight (D-Hudson). “It is simply wrong for a dealer or lessor to require families to be charged an exorbitant amount of money after experiencing such a devastating loss.”