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I have been her sole unpaid caregiver so she gave me the money to buy it. I have been the sole caregiver to a mother with a severe personality disorder and dementia. She had started to become dangerous behind the wheel a few years ago and because of this, decided to have our old car put into my name because she believed that if she got into an accident that no one could sue her if the car was in my name. A year later after I tried very hard to keep the car on the road, it broke down again. My mother by then had gotten worse so she had to go first to a rehab and then into an ALF so she certainly wasn't driving
She decided she didn't want to pay for car repairs and told me to call her accountant and to just go out and buy a new car. She took zero interest in the car and if I thought for a moment that I was in fact supposed to be helping her buy a car for herself, I would have taken her, had her pick the car, plus it would have been put in her name. I would NEVER had purchased the car alone, put it in my name only, driven it everywhere if it was to be her car. In fact, I would have kept the old car for myself while she got a new one. Plus, I moved temporarily out of state and of course believing the car to be mine, I took the car out of state. She never said a word about the car until about a month ago. Now, she claims that the car is hers and she wants it back. Well, the car is only in my name, I now live in a different state (although I still take care of all her bills, affairs, ect while she is in the ALF), and I am sick as I have been just diagnosed with cancer. Legally can she take my car even though she told me to buy it and it's only registered to me?

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It's your car.
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Unless her name is on the title or she signed loan paperwork and has a legal "interest" in the property - she has no rights to the car. If it is registered to you, the title is ONLY in your name, and any loan is in your name ONLY, your mother has no rights. If she paid for the car with her funds, that is a stickier question. She might have a moral interest in the car, but no legal standing unless her name is in the legal paperwork for the car. If your mother is applying for medicaid at any point, and the car is considered a gift to you, there might be an issue there with Medicaid "look-back" penalty or gift tax return due for your mother if above annual exclusion. But given the facts you described, your mother should not be able to take the car. Sounds like a power play from the ALF since you are now farther away and sick and focusing on yourself. Please take care of yourself.
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