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By: Scott Grossman on April 3rd, 2018

I am taking care of our father’s succession. How do I deal with his motor vehicles?

How Do I Deal with my Father’s Motor Vehicles?

Under California probate law, if you are the personal representative of the estate, you may transfer the motor vehicles to their new owners without having to wait until the estate is closed. For this to happen, the vehicles must be in the decedent’s name only. There must be no doubt as to who is entitled to receive them. Also, there may be no objection to the transfer.

If the motor vehicles are owned in joint tenancy, its property will be transferred to the joint tenant. Well, what  if there are doubts as to who will inherit the motor vehicles? Then the transfer of property would have to follow the probate process.

If any of the motor vehicles are not yet fully paid for, the owed amount is normally transferred to the new owner, unless the Will says otherwise. A transfer on the signature of the personal representative is normally honored by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), but they will only accept a transfer to a licensed driver. It is wise to make sure the vehicles are all covered by insurance to avoid any claim against the estate in case of an accident.

If no one wants the motor vehicles, the representative should sell them rapidly in order to avoid unnecessary expenses and depreciation.

Estate (noun):

An estate includes the things that a person owns. The things left by someone who has died can be distributed based on a Will, Trust, or Intestate laws. Estates have to be administered in the Probate Court if the estate meets certain criteria.

Joint Tenancy (noun):

The ownership of an estate or property jointly by two or more parties. The portion of each passing to the other owners on death.