When his wife passed away, my father needed to return her lease vehicle early. Considering them family acquaintances, if not friends, he spoke to the owner and his brother to arrange the early lease return. Not only did they charge him the full amount of the remaining payments (which they are contractually entitled to do), but when he asked if they would park the car for the nine months remaining on the lease, since he was still paying for it, they boldly told him that it would be put to auction or short-term leased right away. They, from my perspective, essentially admitted that they'd be getting paid twice for the vehicle - benefiting from my father's tragic circumstances.
While they are indeed entitled to charge out the remaining payments if the lease is ended early, in the case of the death of the lessee, this practice seems to be very much frowned upon, as a call to several other dealers revealed. Especially in light of the fact that people are always looking for short term leases, and it's very easy to lease these vehicles pretty much immediately. In fact, some of the dealers I spoke to not only waive the remaining payments, but also send the surviving spouse a gift in recognition of their loss.
In my opinion, this was a really low move, and if they'll do something like this to someone they know, I can imagine how they will treat a stranger. Disappointing. Shame on you.