Vehicle Ownership After Death
Vehicles are considered part of an estate when a person passes. What happens to ownership of the vehicles after death is determined via will, titles, probate laws and whether there are any liens on the vehicle.
Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship
If the vehicle title has a joint owner or verbiage on the title includes “joint tenants with right of survivorship” then that owner is entitled to the vehicle and assumes all debts remaining on that vehicle. The remaining tenant claims ownership by presenting a copy of the death certificate and a new title request to the vehicle registration office.
If There is a Will
If a beneficiary of a vehicle is listed in the will, then some states will allow transfer of ownership by filing an affidavit, avoiding probate. The new owner assumes all costs associated with the transfer of ownership, including any remaining debts.
Vehicles & Probate
If there isn’t a will, then intestacy applies, which designates ownership of the vehicle to a spouse, child, parent or other family member. Some states require all property of the deceased go through probate, including the vehicle, to satisfy any remaining debts. Other states allow bypassing the probate process by writing an affidavit to transfer ownership to a beneficiary.
Debt & Registration
Regardless of how or when transfer of vehicle ownership is done, it’s important to keep payments current and to register the title in the new owner’s name. If the family intends to keep the vehicle and assume the debt, it is important to communicate with the lender about the death and how to proceed moving forward. Other options are to return the car or sell it at auction, and apply the proceeds against what’s owed.
Other Things to Know
In some cases, Credit Life Disability Insurance is obtained at the time of vehicle purchase, which takes care of outstanding balances. This is particularly beneficial to know before assuming debt or selling the car to pay off debt.
Keep Everything Straight
Create a My Life & Wishes account and eliminate the guesswork for loved ones. Secure your vehicle title, will, loan and insurance information so the only thing your family needs to take care of is your memory.
Beneficiaries miss out on life insurance benefits all too often. The odds that you're owed money from a lost, forgotten or unknown policy are about one in 600. Besides life insurance, there may be other assets a deceased person might have that family members may be totally unaware of. Without an organized list, your loved ones and beneficiaries may be missing out.
In a recent report we touched on the importance of keeping certain financial documents. Today, we are taking a deeper dive into what you should keep and for how long. We'll also give you suggestions on where to store documents, and when they are no longer needed, how to get rid of them.
In a recent report, Care.com talked about the importance of end-of-life planning and included My Life and Wishes as the “best on-line end-of-life planning and document service(s)”. In a related Article, Kim Komando names My Life and Wishes as one of her top picks on organizing end-of-life plans.
What information do people need to access in emergency situations? A trip to the ER may require: List of allergies, current medications, medical history, doctor contacts, family contacts, insurance information, photo identification. A fire or natural disaster may require: Identification documents, insurance documents, proof of ownership (such as deeds or titles), access to bank accounts for emergency cash, pet location information, medical information and family contact information. So where do you keep this information? Is it accessible and is it secure?