Transferring a Vehicle Upon Death of a Family Member

Transferring a Vehicle Upon Death of a Family Member

What happens when a person dies with a vehicle titled in their name with no surviving co-owner? Some states allow vehicle owners to name a beneficiary to take title upon an owner’s death.  Michigan is not one of those states.  But it is fairly simple to take care of this situation without the dreaded trip to the Secretary of State office.

If you are the closest next of kin (usually spouse then a child) to the owner, you will want to see if you can use the “Certification From The Heir To A Vehicle” form to transfer the title.  This is a Michigan Department of State form with some criteria to allow a transfer.  The Certification requires the following.

  1. You must be the closest next of kin. In the case of a child, I do recommend that all children of the deceased person sign off and agree to the proposed transfer.
  2. The total value of all vehicles owned by the deceased person that need to be transferred cannot exceed $60,000.
  3. There must not be a probate estate opened or the need to probate the estate of the person.  If probate is required, the vehicle is an asset of the estate and must be treated as such with the sale proceeds being payable to the estate.

Another issue that comes up during this time is the existence of a secured party on the certificate of title.  A secured party such as a bank, will place a lien against a vehicle to secure repayment of money advanced for the purchase of the vehicle.  To transfer a title with a secured party listed who has been paid off, you must locate the notice received when the loan was paid off stating that the secured interest was released.  If you cannot find the release, it will be necessary to contact the creditor to obtain the release. Always bring the title, release when applicable, and death certificate with you to the Secretary of State.

Dealing with vehicles is just one small piece of wrapping up the affairs of a deceased person. We help walk you through all details and the unique situations that come up whether probate is needed, not needed, or there is a trust to be administered.  


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