It is almost impossible to imagine our daily lives without vehicles, especially cars. Considering the importance of vehicles, how do Florida courts distribute them upon the owner’s passing? Read on to find out whether vehicles have to go through probate in Florida.
Do Vehicles Have to Go Through Probate in Florida? – The Essentials
Depending on the circumstances, the deceased’s loved ones may receive a vehicle sooner than any other assets in his or her estate. Even better – it may not need court intervention at all.
Florida Statutes §732.402 (1) provides that “if a decedent was domiciled in this state at the time of death, the surviving spouse, or, if there is no surviving spouse, the children of the decedent shall have the right to a share of the estate of the decedent as provided in this section, to be designated “exempt property.”
Florida Statutes §732.402 (2) defines “exempt property” as:
- “Household furniture, furnishings, and appliances in the decedent’s usual place of abode up to a net value of $20,000 as of the date of death
- Two motor vehicles as defined in Fla. Stat. §316.003, which do not, individually as to either such motor vehicle, have a gross vehicle weight in excess of 15,000 pounds, held in the decedent’s name and regularly used by the decedent or members of the decedent’s immediate family as their personal motor vehicles
- All qualified tuition programs authorized by s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (…)
- All benefits paid pursuant to Fla. Stat. §112.1915″
How Can a Decedent’s Relatives Claim an Exempt Vehicle in Florida?
The deceased’s surviving spouse or children must file a petition to claim the exempt property on or before the later of the following dates (Fla. Stat. §732.402 (6)):
- “Four months after the date of service of the notice of administration, or
- The date that is 40 days after the date of termination of any proceeding involving the construction, admission to probate, or validity of the will or involving any other matter affecting any part of the estate subject to this section”
If the heirs fail or decide not to file a petition within the statutory period, they will be deemed in court to have waived their right to claim the exempt property.
Please note that Florida Statutes §732.402(7) specifies that “property determined as exempt under this section shall be excluded from the value of the estate before residuary, intestate, or pretermitted or elective shares are determined.”
Upon receipt of the petition, the court may authorize the distribution of the exempt property, which is distributed directly to the decedent’s surviving spouse or children. The title transfer is filed with the Tax Collector’s Office in the county where the decedent resided.
Florida Statutes §319.28 (1)(a) provides that “in the event of the transfer of ownership of a motor vehicle or mobile home by operation of law as upon inheritance, devise or bequest, (…)” the heir must present ” satisfactory proof to the department of ownership and right of possession to such motor vehicle or mobile home.”
Hence, “upon payment of the fee prescribed by law and presentation of an application for a certificate of title, the department may issue to the applicant a certificate of title thereto.”