A few years ago a woman I was dating asked me to cosign on a loan for a vehicle. I did so, and all was fine for 2 years. Then after a bad breakup, she stopped making payments.

The bank sent out a notice of voluntary surrender to both her and myself to be signed and sent back. I personally did not sign the form as one of the lines in the paper said "If the property does not sell for the total amount owed, I will be responsible for the unpaid amount." As I took this to mean that I alone would have to pay this back. (Nowhere in the letter did it state that there were cosigners or two parties involved) She, on the other hand, did sign the paper that was sent to her and return it to the bank.

Several months later I have received word that I, as well as her, are being sued for the rest of the amount owed on the vehicle after the sale, which comes to a total of $4800. As I have not signed the release and she did, is she responsible for the amount owed? I have not only the original letter, but also the emails from the bank about the release and a recording of the bank manager telling me that she signed the form and I did not (I'm in Missouri, where one party can record their conversations.)

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    As a cosigner, weren't you already responsible for the unpaid amount? Refusing to sign the surrender notice doesn't change that existing obligation. Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 23:58

2 Answers 2


There is no significance to using the words "I" or "we", nor does it matter that you didn't sign the surrender paper (after al, you did not have possession of the vehicle and it is not yours to surrender). You will have gotten a notice, at the beginning of this process (when the loan was taken out) that provides information like this, in particular

The creditor can collect this debt from you without first trying to collect from the borrower. The creditor can use the same collection methods against you that can be used against the borrower, including suing you or garnishing your wages. If this debt is ever in default, that fact may become a part of your credit record.

When you are a loan co-signer, that means the creditor can go after you and you alone to get the money. Since it seems the creditors are pursuing you both, that beats the alternative that you have to sue her to get anything.

Since there is no question that money is owed, the point of the trial is to decide who pays it: it will be one or both of you, and it won't be that the bank has to take a loss. Your attorney's job is to argue that it should not be you (her attorney's job is to argue that it should be you). Your concern should be that it's too difficult to get the money from her, and easy to get the money from you, which is why you need to hire a good attorney.


You are in default on the loan, so you owe the money

When you co-signed the loan, you already agreed to be responsible for paying that. The agreement on the surrender notice to pay the remaining money is not necessary, and the other person signing it doesn't relieve you of your obligation to the bank: only the bank can do that, and they haven't.

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