On Tuesday, May 27th, of this year, my stepfather, who had been battling cancer for 8 years, finally succumbed at 6:20 in the morning, with my mother at his side. We were devastated and, although time has passed, our healing has been is slow.
As is often the case in such situations, my mother, his wife, was left with all of the unpleasant details that remain when one's husband has died. His remains, the memorial service, all the notifications, the correspondence, what to do with his belongings, where did leave that information?, how do I get this into my name instead of his, now?, etc. It is by no means an easy time.
In a moment of foresight, when my parents purchased their most recent vehicles, they decided to co-sign for one another, so that in the event of one of their deaths, the other would have immediate right to do whatever was needed with the car that remained. My mother was able to deal with my stepfather's car very easily and succinctly with no issue.
However, it is the car that she herself drove that suddenly became an issue, and this is where National City comes in.
My stepfather had co-signed on my mother's Vanilla PT Cruiser, but my mother was the main owner of the car, the one making the payments and the one driving it. She was nearly A FULL YEAR ahead in her payments. That's correct, she was paid in full through March of 2009, and with her choice of career and credit scores, there was NOTHING there that would have made any intelligent company believe that she was not capable of continuing her payments.
However, there was something in the fine print of the lease, held by National City, that stated that if either of the lease holders died, they would be able to call in the loan and require FULL payment on the vehicle. And that's exactly what they did.
It wasn't bad enough that my mother had lost her husband; it wasn't bad enough that she had to deal with what to do with his body, and car, and clothes and it wasn't enough that she already had to make decisions about whether to stay in the house she shared with him or even in this state, but National City had to send a certified letter to both her AND our laywer handling the will and estate insisting on FULL PAYMENT of the car that didn't fully belong to him, wasn't anywhere CLOSE to being behind on payments and HAD NOTHING in the file that would indicate that she couldn't keep paying for it.
Luckily for my mother, she had already decided, some months earlier, that she would be trading in her car and this took care of the issue for her. Wait, this gets better! Although they felt the need to send certified letters to my mother demanding full payment to both her AND the lawyer, their return reply upon receiving said funds was.... just a letter and only to her, personally. Not "We're sorry for your loss and sorry we felt we had to give you one more thing to worry about during this difficult time" in a certified letter or card, but just a "We thank you for your cooperation, have a nice day" in a plain little envelope that looks so similar to the annoying mass mailing credit card applications or banking advertisements that thay send out daily that one could have easily missed it and believed that they had NOT received payment and intended to take my mother to court (as their certified letter stated they would if they didn't get the money immediately).
I absolutely understand that they had the full right to demand payment, but simply because something is allowed, doesn't mean they should do it.