Escape your car lease early if you become disabled?

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Dear Driving for Dollars,
My 91-year-old mother suffered a stroke and is no longer able to drive. She has 20 months left on a 36-month car lease. Is there a way to terminate the lease early without any financial repercussions?
— Barry

Dear Barry,
According to the Association of Consumer Vehicle Lessors (the trade association of major auto lessors), a car lease is not eligible to be turned in without penalty if the lessee becomes disabled and can no longer drive.

That said, go over the lease contract thoroughly to understand what is entailed in an early turn-in and to see if there are any circumstances that might be considered acceptable without penalty.

Are there any exceptions?

Even if there are no exceptions stated in the contract, call the lessor directly on your mother’s behalf to see if they are willing to do anything. Ideally, you would be able to support the request with documentation such as a medical note stating she can no longer drive.

If it turns out that early termination is unrealistic or too pricey, you might consider finding someone to take over the car lease from your mother. In some instances, if another family member takes over the lease, this can be done for a small fee.

Third-party companies can help

If you don’t know of anyone to take over the car lease, look into third-party services, such as or, which match lessees looking to get out of car leases with prospective lessees. Most automotive brands allow lease takeovers, and these third-party companies handle the paperwork associated with this so you can feel confident it is done correctly.

For more details on the process, read Want out of a car lease? Try trading.

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If you have a car question, email it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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