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Transfer of Motor Vehicles after Owner’s Death: How to Avoid Probate in Florida

By Cristina M. Fernandez, Esq.

A.        The Question

A common question we encounter is how to transfer the title of a motor vehicle upon the death of its owner.

B.        Law Summary

Florida law allows the beneficiaries or heirs of a deceased person to transfer a motor vehicle title without the need of a formal court proceeding. To avoid court intervention, the beneficiary/heir or personal representative must apply for a new certificate of title to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and that application must be accompanied by an affidavit – a statement attesting to certain facts. The tax collector’s office in the county in which the deceased person resided will generally take the applications and also supply the appropriate forms upon request. They will process the application and accompanying documents with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. See, Fla. Stat. §319.28

C.        Intestate

If the deceased person died intestate (without a Last Will), the required documentation includes:

  • The completed application for  the certificate of title;
    • This can be found on the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) website
  • The certificate of title or other satisfactory proof of ownership or possession;
  • An affidavit that the estate is not indebted; and
  • An affidavit that the surviving spouse, if any, and the heirs, if any, have agreed on how the estate assets will be divided

D.  Testate

If the deceased person died testate, (with a Last Will), the application should be made by the personal representative of the estate and must include:

  • The completed application for the certificate of title
    • As mentioned above, the form can be found on the FLHSMV website
    • The certificate of title or other satisfactory proof of ownership or possession;
    • If the will is being probated, a certified copy of the will and an affidavit that the estate is not indebted; or
    • If the will is not being probated, a sworn copy of the will and an affidavit that the estate is not indebted.

E.        Important Note

Probate may only be avoided if the estate is not indebted. If the deceased person had any debts, the creditor claims must first be resolved either by the formal administration of the estate or by the payment of the claims outside the probate proceeding.

Conclusion

Assets such as motor vehicles should be transferred to the appropriate recipients as soon as possible after a person passes away according to Florida law. These items generally depreciate in value as time goes on and may be a source of potential liability to the estate.

For more information contact Rarick & Beskin at (305) 556-5209 or email to info@raricklaw.com.

Special Note

The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced Miami probate attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

Nota Especial

La información en este blog es de carácter general y no esta supuesto contestar preguntas jurídicas para un individual. No confía en la información presentada en este documento para sus problemas individuales legales. Si usted tiene una pregunta legal sobre los hechos y circunstancias individuales, debe consultar a un abogado experto en fideicomiso. La recepción de la información de este sitio web o en este blog no crea una relación de abogado con el cliente y los privilegios inherentes en ellos.

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