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Can you transfer a car title without going through probate?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Probate |

When a loved one passes away, managing their assets can be overwhelming. One common question that arises is whether you can transfer a car title without going through probate. There are specific circumstances in which the state of Florida allows this.

Transfer by affidavit

In Florida, if the deceased’s estate qualifies as a small estate, you can use a transfer by affidavit process. To qualify as a small estate, the total value must be $75,000 or less, excluding any exempt property.

In this situation, an heir can file an affidavit with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). The affidavit states that they’re entitled to the vehicle. To process the affidavit, you’ll need to provide the death certificate and car title with your form.

Transfer to a surviving spouse

If the car owner was married at the time of death, his or her spouse may be able to transfer the title. Because the car is exempt property according to Florida law, it can be transferred directly to the surviving spouse.

In this situation, the surviving spouse needs the death certificate, marriage certificate, and a completed title transfer form.

Joint ownership with rights of survivorship

If two people owned the car jointly with rights of survivorship, the vehicle would automatically pass on to the surviving owner. Through this method, probate is not needed, however, the surviving owner needs to produce the death certificate and proof of identity to the FLHSMV.

Beneficiary designation

Some car owners choose a beneficiary for their vehicle title. If the car title lists a beneficiary, the transfer process bypasses probate. During this process, the beneficiary needs to present the death certificate and title transfer form to the FLHSMV.

Navigating the transfer of a car title after a loved one’s death can be complex. However, knowing the available options can simplify the process and help you avoid the probate system.