When a loved one passes away, handling their affairs can be challenging. One crucial task is transferring the car title. When administering the estate of a deceased person in North Carolina, there are alternatives to a full administration process. If you need to do a transfer vehicle title after death process, this article will explore the key aspects of the Assignment of Motor Vehicle Title process and how it provides a simplified transfer option.

Assignment of Motor Vehicle Title: A Simplified Title Transfer Process in North Carolina

One alternative to a full probate process for the transfer of a car title is known as Assignment of Motor Vehicle Title, completed with Form MVR-317

This method allows for transferring a motor vehicle owned by the decedent’s estate to another person in specific circumstances.

Applicability of Assignment of Motor Vehicle Title

The Assignment of Motor Vehicle Title process is available under G.S. 20-77(b) but only in the following two situations:

Situation 1

When an individual dies without a will (intestate) and the court has not found an administrator (personal representative) qualified to settle the estate through the probate process.

Situation 2

When an individual dies with a will (testate) and, the following is true:

  • The decedent left a small estate that does not warrant the expense of probate and administration.
  • An interested party has demanded neither probate nor administration.
  • The will is filed with the clerk’s office.

For example, suppose an estate has already been administered and closed, and a vehicle titled to the deceased person has been discovered after the fact. In that case, this alternative procedure may be appropriate as an alternative to reopening the estate.

Working with an estate administration attorney can help you see how to streamline an estate settlement process.

Affidavit of Assignment of Title

To effectuate the transfer of a motor vehicle’s title through the Assignment of Motor Vehicle Title process, you must submit an affidavit. The affidavit must comply with the requirements in NCGS 20-77(b).

The Affidavit of Authority to Assign Title (MVR-317) form is unavailable online, but you can pick it up at the DMV.

The draft version of the form below is for informational purposes only as an example of what an affidavit in your county may look like:

vehicle title transfer after death

The affidavit must include the following information:

  • Decedent’s name and date of death.
  • Indication of whether the decedent died intestate or testate.
  • Statement that no administration is pending or expected.
  • Confirmation that all debts have been paid or that the proceeds from the transfer of title will be used to pay debts.
  • Names, ages, and relationship to the decedent of all heirs and devisees (if there is a will).
  • Name and address of the transferee of the title.
  • All heirs of the decedent must sign the affidavit.

In cases where the decedent’s minor or incompetent children do not have a guardian, the surviving spouse may execute the affidavit and transfer the interest of the minor or incompetent children.

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will transfer the title to the motor vehicle upon receipt of your completed and compliant affidavit.  The Clerk of Superior Court must approve the affidavit and execute the reverse side of it before it is submitted to the DMV.

Exception for Certain Mobile Homes and Motor Vehicles

Spouses Transferring Ownership

When spouses become co-owners of a mobile home, they own it as tenants by the entirety by default, regardless of whether it is classified as real or personal property.

This is usually a form of ownership reserved for real estate only, but an exception has been created for mobile homes, even if they are still classified as personal property.

If one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse becomes the sole owner of the mobile home. If the mobile home is registered with the DMV, the surviving spouse can sell or title the mobile home in their name by providing a copy of the deceased spouse’s death certificate to the DMV.

This process makes it easy for married couples to handle the title and transfer ownership to only one spouse after the other passes away.

Transfer Vehicle Title After Death When Owned Jointly with Right of Survivorship

If a motor vehicle is jointly owned by two or more persons with a right of survivorship, the surviving co-owners become the owners of the vehicle upon the death of one co-owner.

The DMV typically requires a deceased’s death certificate to allow the survivor to transfer the title.

Summing Up

The Assignment of Motor Vehicle Title provides a simplified process for transferring the ownership of a motor vehicle owned by a deceased person.

This alternative method is available in specific circumstances and is largely discretionary on the Clerk of Court’s part regarding whether to allow this process. 

Overall, the Assignment of Motor Vehicle Title offers a streamlined approach to the transfer process. In some instances, it also helps avoid the need for a full administration process.

Our Experienced Estate Administration Attorneys Can Help

At Hopler, Wilms, and Hanna, we understand the legal complexities and emotional challenges of estate administration. Our team is dedicated to providing compassionate, efficient legal assistance during these difficult times.

We guide you through every step, ensuring car title transfer and other estate matters are handled with the utmost care and legal knowledge. We support you in navigating legal responsibilities, making the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Get in touch today and find out how we can help make the legal process of estate administration easier for you.

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