September 30, 2023
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Getting your name off a car note is difficult

Q. Last year my ex-boyfriend purchased a car and I co-signed. After we broke up, he moved out of state and took the car. He has been making all the payments and so far everything is fine. I was wondering, from a legal standpoint, is there anyway I can take him to court to get my name off the note?
A. As I have said many times before, don’t co-sign unless you are prepared to pay. Unless the creditor agrees to change the note, there is nothing you can do to get your name off the note unless he agrees to refinance in his own name. The creditor is not going to just let you take your name off the note. That is why they asked for you to co-sign in the first place. In fact, if your ex stops paying, the lender probably will just go after you rather than chasing down the car in another state. My advice is to try to get him to refinance in his own name as soon as possible. I should point out that if you do have to pay, you have the right to go after him to be reimbursed.
Q. I did a small construction job and was paid with a check after I completed the work. I deposited the check in my account, but it was returned because the person who gave me the check stopped payment. I went to his bank and they said it was not their problem. How do I get paid? Why doesn’t his bank owe me the money?
A. The bank does not owe you the money because a bank generally has no liability when a check is written by one of its customers. A check is simply the customer’s order to the bank to pay money to someone else. The bank usually pays the check, and that is the end of the matter. But if there is not enough money in the account or the customer tells the bank not to pay (by issuing a stop payment order), the bank will promptly return the check and it has no further liability. You should always view a check as the customer’s promise to pay, not an obligation of the bank.
Fortunately, however, you are not out of luck. When a check is not paid, the person who wrote the check remains responsible. I suggest you let the person know you expect him to promptly pay the check with cash and that if he doesn’t pay you will file a claim in justice court. If you do have to sue, you can collect the amount of the check plus any fees your bank may have charged and the costs of filing the lawsuit.
Q. I let a fried borrow the extra key to my apartment and he lost it. Can I require my landlord to change my locks?
A. Under the law, a landlord has an obligation to change the locks at his expense, when a new tenant moves in. After that time, the landlord must change the locks whenever the tenant requests, as often as the tenant wants. The tenant, however, must pay the costs of installing the new locks. In other words, you can require your landlord to change your locks, however, you must pay the costs.
Q. I have a small estate. I am thinking about writing my own will. Is a handwritten will valid? Does it have to be witnessed or notarized?
A. A handwritten will, called a “holographic will,” is valid in Texas. Basically, all that is required is that the will be written completely in your own handwriting. A holographic will cannot be typed or printed. Unlike other forms of wills, a holographic will does not need to be witnessed to be valid. There is no requirement in Texas that any form of will be notarized. Most wills are notarized, however, because this makes it easier to probate the will.
Having said that, although a holographic will is simple and legal, in my opinion it is generally not a good idea. One mistake can end up costing your loved ones a great deal in time and money. Many attorneys will prepare a simple will for a very reasonable fee, and online will kits are inexpensive and are easy to use and usually come with good directions. As far as I am concerned, using one of these options is money well spent. I suggest you search online, or call some local attorneys and ask what they charge to prepare a will.

Do you want to know more about your legal rights? Check out my website,

Rhea Gonzales


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