I was recently involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, since it was my first accident, I was scatter-brained and anxious. What I did not realize at the time was that the actions you take immediately after the accident can affect a personal injury case and the outcome of that case. I wanted to find a way to share my experiences and mistakes with other. Since the Internet is so popular, I figured this would be a great way to do so. While you likely aren't planning on being in an accident soon, if you are, hopefully you remember some of the tips I share on this website.
After a loved one has passed away, it can be difficult to know where to turn for help. In many cases, a lot can be done to keep some assets out of probate. Probate can tie up assets for months if they are included with the filing. Read on to find out several ideas that could keep a vehicle out of probate.
Title Adjustments and Transfers
In some cases, almost anyone can be added to the title before the owner passes away. Then it becomes a simple matter of removing the name of the deceased from the title. This is usually accomplished by presenting a death certificate at your local probate or tax office. Things work the same way if there is a surviving spouse. Even if the surviving spouse's name is not listed on the title ahead of time, the title can be transferred to the spouse without it having to go thorough probate. In most states, this type of transfer is possible even if the deceased did not specifically mention it in a will or trust.
Using an Affidavit
Another slightly more complex way to avoid probate when dealing with vehicles is to use an affidavit. If there is no surviving spouse but other relatives, such as adult children, exist, they may use this method to transfer the title depending on the wording of the will. Speak with your local probate office or attorney about the forms needed, but many of them can be downloaded from your county or state website. Also needed is a death certificate and the vehicle's title.
The affidavit must be signed by all the beneficiaries. This form allows them to take ownership of the vehicle from the estate. Then, the vehicle title is used to transfer ownership of the vehicle to the beneficiaries (often on the back of the title). The vehicle can be owed by all the beneficiaries, some of the beneficiaries, or someone else entirely. If an outside party is to own the vehicle, be sure to create a bill of sale signed by all the beneficiaries. Once the new title is ready, it will be mailed to the new owner of the vehicle. Keep in mind that most vehicle title offices require proof of auto insurance to obtain a registration and tags.
It's important to take into consideration the wording of the will or trust. If the vehicle was mentioned, for example, in a trust, then whoever inherits it is determined by the trust. Trusts take precedence over anything mentioned in a will. If no will exists, probate may need to be complete before any assets can be dealt with. Speak to someone in probate law about this issue for verification.