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RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 41593
Experience:  Texas lawyer for 30 years in Estate law
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My mother died in May of this year, at the time of her

Customer Question

My mother died in May of this year, at the time of her death, her car had 12 payments left before it would be paid off. So far I have made 3 of those payments leaving only 9 more. I would like to pay the loan off and title the vehicle in my name.
Someone mentioned to me it may be subject to Probate, but I have done nothing in regards ***** ***** My mother died with no assets of any significant value aside from some equity in her home, and the potential equity in the car. Aside from that, she did have a trust in place that held some mineral rights that generate modest income. My sibling and I are named as the beneficiaries. Until this matter with the car came up, I had assumed up until now I did not need to do anything in regards ***** *****
So the question is again, can I keep paying on the car, perhaps just pay the car off and title it in my name, or is it an asset of her estate that is subject to some kind of probate process for which I need to initiate with the state.
I do not want to put any more money into an asset I may not have legal ownership over, or may be forced to liquidate in the end. Besides, if I was not currently making the payments the loan company would just repossess it and it would not be an asset to anyone but the bank. For that reason it seems to me I should have legal right to it if I am paying on it shouldn't I? Surely I could not be expected to keep making payments on a potential asset throughout what could be a months long probate process and then loose the car in the end could I?
The vehicle according to The Kelly Blue Book, has an estimated private party value of $12,000. Some of my mother's outstanding debts exceed that amount. I live in the state of Arizona.
Again, will I be able to pay my deceased mother's car off and title it in my name or is it going to be subject to her creditors if I do? Do they have any claim to the equity in the car now if I decided to try and sell it and pay it off? Totally confused how to proceed.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Would have selected "Estate Law" when entering this question but did not realize I had to do it then and not after I wrote the question.
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 2 years ago.

Hi and welcome to JA. I am Ray and will be the expert helping you today.

Unfortunately this is a probate asset and would have to be part of the estate.You would be entitled to reimbursement for the payments made here from the estate.But the house and car and anything else belonging to the mother here are part of her estate.

The laws of intestacy control who the heirs are here.Your sibling and you are the likely heirs.Again you can claim as a creditor here the payments made before any disbursement of funds.

Or you can decide it isn't worth it and drive it for a bit until it gets repossessed.But no way around probate here if you want to get a title to it.You would have to resolve it in probate with the other heir.But legal fees, costs, and your payment reimbursement come off first as creditors before any disbursement.

Expect probate here to take about a year from start to finish.

I appreciate the chance to help you today.Please let me know if you have more follow up.Thanks again.

In probate here you can be named personal representative and given letters from the court.The letters here give you authority to transfer title at dmv.

Expert:  RayAnswers replied 2 years ago.

If you give me your state here where the person deceased be happy to see if there are forms to file yourself.

Expert:  RayAnswers replied 2 years ago.
It looks like you are in Arizona here is the application form.You can preview it for free and make use of it..
Thanks again and the best to you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I came across this and if you only count the equity in my mother's house and not it's full value, her total assets are below $75,000. Wouldn't this mean I could just claim the vehicle by affidavit?
---Claiming Property With a Simple Affidavit
Arizona has a procedure that allows inheritors to skip probate altogether when the value of all the assets left behind is less than a certain amount. All an inheritor has to do is prepare a short document, stating that he or she is entitled to a certain asset. This document, signed under oath, is called an affidavit. When the person or institution holding the property -- for example, a bank where the deceased person had an account -- gets the affidavit and a copy of the death certificate, it releases the asset.
The out-of-court affidavit procedure is available in Arizona if:
1. The value of all personal property in the estate, less liens and encumbrances, is $75,000 or less. There is a 30-day waiting period. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-3971.B.
2. The value of all Arizona real estate in the estate, less liens and encumbrances, is $100,000 or less at the date of death, and all debts and taxes have been paid. There is a six-month waiting period. Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 14-3971.E.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Actually, just remembered, there were mineral rights in the trust, along with the house which has about $40,000 equity in it. It's hard to say what the mineral rights might be worth, I suppose those would have to be included in the "total asset" tally? And if so, it seems that would open a whole can of worms trying to get them assessed. Head is spinning :(
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 2 years ago.

The affidavit would not work with real estate and minerals.Once you are appointed personal representative you would do a fiduciary deed from you as the pr to yourself as the sole heir.You would need the fiduciary deed to transfer title as part of regular probate.I don't think the problem is the amount but what the assets are.And you need to be the pr to be able to deed it to yourself as sole heir here.

Thanks for the follow up.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Are you saying I could not use an affidavit to secure the car's title because the trust my parents set up for my brother and I contains real estate and mineral rights?
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 2 years ago.
If the trust holds title to the real estate you can use the affidavit.If the house here is part of probate and you need to sell or transfer title from the deceased person you would need probate.
I am sorry I was not clear that the trust held legal title here to the house.If that is the case the affidavit would work.
You wrote"My mother died with no assets of any significant value aside from some equity in her home, and the potential equity in the car"
I took this to mean the estate had these assets rather than a trust.If the trust has everything but the car then the affidavit would work because the car is personal property not real estate.
Thanks for letting me clarify this.

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