In the state of Florida, the law requires a transfer of vehicle title on the decease of the owner. A will drawn up by the owner controls legal ownership of the vehicle. In case the owner died without a will, state law sets out an "intestate" probate process. Once ownership of the vehicle has been decided through the legal system, the transfer of title takes a fairly straight road through the Florida DMV.
Transferring Vehicles by Terms of a Will
If the vehicle owner left a will, a probate court must approve the document and appoint an administrator for the estate. This individual is responsible for transferring property to heirs according to the will. During the process, he must file a Florida title application form and a certified copy of the will, an affidavit stating that the estate is solvent and the original title certificate. In addition, Florida requires a separate form that gives the vehicle identification number and the odometer reading, proof of insurance and any loan agreement still pending on the vehicle. .
Intestate Transfer of Vehicle Title
If the owner died without a will, then he's intestate, and state law governs the transfer of property. The procedure to transfer title is the same as in the preceding paragraph, but the affidavit must state instead that the estate is not indebted and that survivors have agreed among themselves on the new owner. If there are any debts outstanding, state law requires the estate go through probate and the administrator settle the debts before the transfer of any property.
Filing Procedure and Fees
In Florida, title transfer applications go through the county tax collector's office. Once you gather the paperwork, bring the forms in and prepare to pay the required fee. As of early 2015, title transfer fees reached $29.25 for vehicles previously registered in Florida, and $33.25 for vehicles from outside the state. The tax collector's office forwards the transfer application to the Florida DMV, which then processes the new title document.
Vehicles Exempt from Creditor Claims
With some conditions, Florida law allows certain property, including vehicles, an exemption that protects the property from creditor claims (except for that of the auto lender). The beneficiary must be a surviving spouse or children, and the deceased must have been a resident of Florida at the time of death. The heirs must file a Petition for Determination of Exempt Property with the probate court, which then authorizes the exemption. The probate court order must accompany other transfer documents at the tax collector's office.
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