Transferring the title of a deceased person’s vehicle is one of the basic steps required upon the death of a loved one. Depending on how the property was titled at the time of death and whether it is subject to probate, the process to transfer title may vary.
In this article, you will find out how to get title to a deceased vehicle in Florida.
How to Get Title to a Deceased Vehicle in Florida – Probate Assets vs. Exempt Property
If a Florida resident dies owning a vehicle solely in his or her name, the asset will likely go through probate. During probate, the court will verify the validity of the will and oversee the distribution of the decedent’s assets to the heirs.
Any asset with designated beneficiaries is not subject to probate. Hence, a vehicle titled in the name of a trust or not inherited through a will cannot go through probate.
Florida 735.301 (1) provides that “no administration shall be required, or formal proceedings instituted upon the estate of a decedent leaving only personal property exempt under the provisions of Fla. Stat. §732.402 (…).”
Florida Statutes §732.402 (1) adds 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.”
Among the assets considered “exempt property,” Florida law includes “two motor vehicles (…), 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.”
Unless the vehicle has specific creditors’ claims attached to it (e.g., a lien from a car loan finance company), the decedent’s surviving spouse or children can claim it outside of probate.
How to Get Title to a Deceased Vehicle in Florida – Going Through Probate
If the vehicle is subject to probate, it must go through the process before the transfer of title to the new owner. The court must appoint a personal representative to administer the estate and oversee the distribution of the decedent’s possessions.
Once the administration process is over, the personal representative can transfer the title of the vehicle. The transfer occurs through the Tax Collector’s Office in the county where the decedent resided at death.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is the agency responsible for the process. The personal representative must file an Application for Certificate of Title With/Without Registration (HSMV form 82040).
After filling out form 82040, the document must be submitted with a copy of the decedent’s will and an affidavit proving the estate has paid all creditors’ claims or does not have debts. The list of necessary documents may also include:
- A death certificate
- Proof of ID
- The current certificate of title in the deceased’s name
- Satisfactory proof of ownership (if a certificate of title is not available)
- An affidavit affirming that the surviving spouse and/or heirs agree on the division of the decedent’s estate