Understanding the Steps for Transferring a Vehicle at Death in Michigan

The death of a spouse brings many matters for survivors to sort out, among them, the transfer of ownership of a vehicle. In many cases, the recipient of family heirlooms and personal property is determined by a will. But even in these cases, the state of Michigan does offer steps to take in order to lawfully complete the transfer. Transferring a vehicle at death in Michigan can come with different steps, depending on who the survivors are. Here’s a look at some common scenarios outlined by the Michigan Secretary of State.

  • Spouse. If the deceased is survived by a spouse, the spouse is the next of kin who will receive the vehicle. But first, the spouse must complete a form to transfer the vehicle. This form also applies if the vehicle will be transferred to another immediate family member. After the transfer, the license plate may remain on the vehicle.
  • Siblings. If the deceased has no surviving spouse, surviving brothers and sisters are the next closest kin in line to receive the vehicle. All siblings all share equal inheritance of the vehicle. Siblings who don’t want the vehicle may complete a certification statement saying so. The next-of-kin has the option of adding a co-owner when the vehicle is titled. But if that co-owner is not an immediate family member or is not the spouse of the family member who is inheriting the vehicle, that co-owner must pay use tax.
  • Probate. If the deceased had a will, the deceased personal representative appointed by the probate court assigns the title of the deceased’s vehicle to a spouse or family member. That person must then present the title and a copy of the personal representative’s “Letter of Authority” to a branch office of the Secretary of State, where the vehicle may then by titled in his or her name. The license plate is inherited by the spouse or family member and may remain on the vehicle.
  • Joint title. If a person shares the title with the deceased and the title reads says that the full rights of the vehicle go to the survivor, then the process is relatively simple. The vehicle transfers to the other person on the title. In this situation, the person only needs to present the title and a copy of the death certificate. This applies even if the estate of the deceased is in probate.

Transferring ownership of a vehicle does not have to be a confusing process. For help or to learn more, contact us.

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