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J. Warren
J. Warren, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 1116
Experience:  Experience in estate planning including wills, trusts and succession planning.
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Gifting a car after death

Resolved Question:

My mom died without a will in California. Her estate is worth about $550,000. My sister and I are the only heirs. We want to give my son her car, which she owned outright (nothing is owed on the car). How do we do this? Do we have to wait for the court to declare us administrators (we asked to do it jointly) before we can gift the car to him? I am worried because this means the car is sitting without insurance. What if something happens to it during this time? Can we buy insurance and have him use it prior to being able to gift it to him?

Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  J. Warren replied 10 months ago.

Hello and Welcome! Thank you for allowing me to be of service to you. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice; and (2) I will provide you with honest information and not necessarily to tell you might be hoping to hear.

My condolences on the loss of your mother. In order to transfer the vehicle you will need the Letters of Administration granting you and your sister the authority to transfer title of the vehicle to him. The DMV won't permit a transfer of without the authority of an administrator of the estate to do so.

You should maintain the current insurance policy on the vehicle. While technically you and your sister may permit him to use the car provided he and the car have proper insurance, it would be better to wait until at least you have been granted authority to administer the estate but best to wait until title and registration is transferred in his name to avoid any complication in the event of an accident or traffic infraction. There is risk to the estate prior to the transfer of title; in the event of an accident the estate could be deemed liable for any personal injury claims.

I apologize that this was probably not the answer you were hoping to receive. However, it would be unfair to you and unprofessional of me were I to provide you with anything less than truthful and honest information.

All my best & encouragement.

Please note that you are asked to rate my courtesy and professionalism, and not whether the answer supports your legal position. If for any reason you feel that a 2 or 1 rating is appropriate, please first give me the opportunity to address your concerns by clicking the "reply" or “continue conversation” tab.

All states have intricacies in their laws and any information given is simply information only and specifically is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, legal advice. This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship with you.

 

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
So, I am still confused. My Mom's car insurance is paid through 1/14. So, "technically" there is insurance on the car. I called that insurance company and notified them of my mother's death and they said they can keep the insurance in effect. But if no one can drive it, what use is that insurance?

Also, to clarify, are you saying that once the court grants us administrator status, we can sign the car over to him? We do t have to wait until the estate closes?
Expert:  J. Warren replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for following up and sorry my answer was not clear.

Once you have the letters of administration you can grant permission for the car to be driven if you and the other beneficiary agree. The risk is until the title is out of the estate, a claim could be made against the estate in the event the driver causes damage to person or property in excess of the car and drivers insurance policy. This may be remote but its a risk you need to be aware of.

Once you have the authority you and your sister may agree and get courts permission to transfer title which can be requested immediately upon being assigned as administrator.


All my best & encouragement.

Please note that you are asked to rate my courtesy and professionalism, and not whether the answer supports your legal position. If for any reason you feel that a 2 or 1 rating is appropriate, please first give me the opportunity to address your concerns by clicking the "reply" or “continue conversation” tab.

All states have intricacies in their laws and any information given is simply information only and specifically is not intended to be, nor does it constitute, legal advice. This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship with you.

J. Warren, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 1116
Experience: Experience in estate planning including wills, trusts and succession planning.
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