Friday, July 15, 2016
WHEN A VEHICLE OWNER DIES
New York is a title state and it is generally assumed that to transfer title of a car belonging to the deceased, letters testamentary or administration are required - a probate of the estate.
But that is not true with respect to all transfers of a deceased vehicle owner. The following is from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website and applies to vehicles having a value of $25,000 or less:
" For transfers made by the surviving spouse 'According to the Estates, Powers & Trust Law of New York State,' the owner of one vehicle that has a value of $25,000 or less automatically transfers to the surviving spouse. If the surviving spouse wishes to transfer ownership, they must print the decedent’s name in the “Seller’s Name (Print in Full)” section on the back of the Title and sign their name in the “Seller’s Signature” Section followed by the words “as surviving Spouse”.
The ownership of one vehicle that has a value of $25,000 or less transfers to the surviving children under the age of 21 if there is no surviving spouse or the spouse is disqualified. The spouse or the legal guardian of one of the children must sign the title certificate. When the spouse or the guardian signs the title certificate, they must indicate the relationship to the deceased owner. A spouse writes the word "spouse" under the signature. A guardian writes "guardian of", and the name and the relationship of the child to the deceased owner (for example, "Charles Edwards, guardian of John Smith, son").
To transfer ownership of the vehicle to another person, the spouse or guardian must complete an Affidavit for Transfer of Motor Vehicle (MV 349.1). The form must be notarized. The spouse or guardian also gives the new owner a photocopy of the death certificate or certification of death. The DMV accepts a photocopy of the death certificate or certification of death. When the new owner applies for a vehicle registration or a title certificate, they must provide form MV-349.1 and the copy of the death certificate or certification of death."
For more information, see https://dmv.ny.gov/registration/transfer-ownership-and-acceptable-proofs-ownership#Deceased