As discussed in previous articles, an executor or administrator of an estate has the responsibility to ensure that all assets of the estate are dealt with correctly and this, includes any car or vehicle owned by the deceased as at the date of their death.
One of the first steps in administering an estate is to ascertain the legal ownership of assets. If there is a vehicle that forms part of the estate, registration documents need to be reviewed to confirm ownership. If the vehicle is jointly owned, the executor or administrator will assist the surviving owner to transfer ownership to them. If however, the vehicle was owned solely by the deceased, the vehicle needs to be dealt with in accordance with the Will (if there is one) or, in accordance with the rules of intestacy (if there is no Will).
How to distribute?
If there is a Will, an executor may find that the Will provides that the vehicle be gifted to someone in particular. In this instance, the executor will arrange for the transfer of registration to the beneficiary. However, should the Will not be specific as to how the vehicle is to be dealt with, or should there be no Will, an executor or administrator has the discretion to either sell the vehicle and distribute the proceeds accordingly or, transfer ownership directly to a beneficiary.
What happens in the meantime?
An executor and administrator have the responsibility to maintain and manage any asset of an estate until transfer or sale of the asset is completed. This includes any vehicle. This means that insurance and registration are maintained. If it is likely that the vehicle is to be sold, the vehicle will need to be maintained to a state where a Roadworthy Certificate can be obtained.
In Victoria, the relevant authority to assist with the transfer of ownership (either to a beneficiary or to a buyer) is VicRoads. For more information, you can visit the VicRoads website on how they can assist with licensing and registration matters.
How can Nevett Ford assist?
For a lot of people, the administration and management of a deceased estate is unfamiliar territory and can be overwhelming. If you find this to be the case, it is best to seek assistance from a lawyer. Nevett Ford’s Wills and Estates Team is able to assist clients throughout this process and provide an end-to-end management of estate administration including assisting our clients with the transfer of vehicle registrations. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on 03 9614 7111.