How to probate a car with a bank lien on it


In Florida, car do have to go through probate. Simply go to the tag and title office with the will, death certificate and original car title.  However, if the car still has a bank lien on it, the bank has the original title.  In that case, you will need to pay off the car and then transfer the title once it is mailed to you from the bank.


Attorney Tom Olsen: Ryan, you're on News 96.5, go ahead.

Ryan: Yes, I have a question about probate. My father passed recently. His asset, he didn't really have any assets.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right.

Ryan: He just had a car that he still owes payments on. I didn't know if I need to file probate or just a letter, or get a letter administration, so I can basically pay that debt off to pay the car off to actually take possession of the car.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, Ryan you want to avoid probate if you can. The good news is, that cars don't go through probate. All you have to do is go down to the tag and title office with the car tag and car title and his death certificate, then re-title it. But for you, you can't get the title until you paid off the loan. Ryan, I would think that you could easily, if you can find out what the loan balance is, you can easily pay off that car loan. They'll send you the title that's in your dad's name. Then you go down to the tag and title office with that original car title, your dad's death certificate and they'll re-title it into your name.

Ryan: Okay. Yes, because I went to my bank and they were saying that I just need a letter administration and then I've already been to the tag office with his bank that they loan--

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes, but you're going to pay out at least $2,000 to get letters of administration.

Ryan: Oh, okay.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes. They make it sound so simple and easy but it's expensive.

Ryan: [laughs] Yes. Then it wouldn't be worth it if I paid off the ca-- By the time I pay everything.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Exactly, yes. Ryan, do you get it?

Ryan: Yes. Just pay off the car and then with the debts too but they can loan it over. When I pay it off, it will not go to the estate then?

Attorney Tom Olsen: No, they will come in your dad's name.

Ryan: The what? Pardon me.

Attorney Tom Olsen: The car title will be on your dad's name.

Ryan: Yes, okay. But once I pay that debt off that's in his name, now it's in an estate, it won't go to the estate and then I have to file for administration to get--?

Attorney Tom Olsen: No, once you have the car title in your dad's name, you go down to the tag and title office with that car title, with his death certificate, with the copy of his will and they will re-title that car into the names of the beneficiaries of the estate. What I'm saying Ryan is that the car does not have to go through probate.

Ryan: Okay. Except there is no will, he did not leave a will.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, then it will go to the kids, or the child, or children.

Ryan: Yes, I'm the child.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay, all right. Should be easy breezy for you, Ryan. I'm trying to help you avoid attorney's fees and court cost.

Chrissy: Tom, I think that Ryan's question is really good, in that many people, we get calls like that all the time. They don't-- good news is, vehicles do not go through probate and it is as simple as you just said, where they can just go to the tag and title office. Obviously, he has to pay off the loan but once that's taken care of, he can easily get it done.

Attorney Tom Olsen: A lot of people are trying to avoid probate too. Mom passes away and they call a financial institution and say, "Oh, just get a small estate affidavit, that's all we need." Guess what? There is no small estate affidavit in the state of Florida. They make it sound so simple but their financial institutions don't know what they're talking about usually.

Chrissy: Well Tom, that's another great point, in that the letters of administration, they make it sound like you just go get a letter. Not that easy.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey everybody. Thanks so much for all your great calls and questions, I do so much appreciate it. If I may, a suggestion for you, go outdoors and take pleasure in the beauty of nature and as always enjoy your friends and family. My name is Tom Olsen. The name of the show is Olsen on Law. You're listening to News 96.5.