Florida law allows the beneficiaries or heirs of a deceased person to transfer a motor vehicle title without the need of a formal court proceeding. To avoid court intervention, the beneficiary/heir or personal representative must apply for a new certificate of title to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and that application must be accompanied by an affidavit – a statement attesting to certain facts.

The tax collector’s office in the county in which the deceased person resided will generally take the applications and also supply the appropriate forms upon request.

They will process the application and accompanying documents with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. See, Fla. Stat. §319.28

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A yellow car parked on the street with no owner

Intestate

If the deceased person died intestate (without a Last Will), the required documentation includes:

  • The completed application for  the certificate of title;
    • This can be found on the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) website
  • The certificate of title or other satisfactory proof of ownership or possession;
  • An affidavit that the estate is not indebted; and
  • An affidavit that the surviving spouse, if any, and the heirs, if any, have agreed on how the estate assets will be divided

Testate

If the deceased person died testate, (with a Last Will), the application should be made by the personal representative of the estate and must include:

  • The completed application for the certificate of title
    • As mentioned above, the form can be found on the FLHSMV website
    • The certificate of title or other satisfactory proof of ownership or possession;
    • If the will is being probated, a certified copy of the will and an affidavit that the estate is not indebted; or
    • If the will is not being probated, a sworn copy of the will and an affidavit that the estate is not indebted.

Probate may only be avoided if the estate is not indebted. If the deceased person had any debts, the creditor claims must first be resolved either by the formal administration of the estate or by the payment of the claims outside the probate proceeding.

Conclusion

Assets such as motor vehicles should be transferred to the appropriate recipients as soon as possible after a person passes away according to Florida law. These items generally depreciate in value as time goes on and may be a source of potential liability to the estate.

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