Author Topic: Buying a car where owner is deceased  (Read 1678 times)

felizcortez

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Buying a car where owner is deceased
« on: October 05, 2017, 10:48:49 PM »
I'm looking at a used car this Saturday and according to the ad and the discussion I had with the seller this evening via phone the owner was his grandmother who passed away.  Car has relatively low mileage and the asking price is decent. 

Other than watching out for the standard craigslist scam's (if i get alarm bells I'm walking), I'm not sure what needs to happen to transfer a car where I believe the estate would own the vehicle.  Can the executor of the estate sell the car without titling it in their name?  Anything else to be worried about?

Goldielocks

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Re: Buying a car where owner is deceased
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2017, 10:54:53 PM »
Depends partly on the value of the car.   I would ask to see a death certificate that matches the vehicle owner's name, and to see some sort of document that authorizes the person selling to be the executor of the estate or indicating them as the only inheritor...   
....you could call DMV and ask what they would need to see in order to legally transfer the title.

Monkey Uncle

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Re: Buying a car where owner is deceased
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2017, 04:40:12 AM »
Depends partly on the value of the car.   I would ask to see a death certificate that matches the vehicle owner's name, and to see some sort of document that authorizes the person selling to be the executor of the estate or indicating them as the only inheritor...   
....you could call DMV and ask what they would need to see in order to legally transfer the title.

Yes, this is definitely an instance where you need to get the information from the authoritative source.

ltt

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Re: Buying a car where owner is deceased
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2017, 09:04:57 PM »
Definitely call the DMV to see what is required.  We bought a used vehicle from a dealer where someone had died.  If I'm remembering correctly, the DMV either had a copy of the death certificate sent by the dealer to their office, or the dealer gave us a copy and then we went to get the title.  I can't remember.  But I do remember they needed to see a copy of that certificate in order to transfer.

EarthSurfer

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Re: Buying a car where owner is deceased
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2017, 05:39:42 AM »
Buying from estates is something of a family thing. My Dad did several over his life, and both my brother and I have made one purchase from an estate. Usually we were purchasing lower mileage vehicles at a steep discount below book because others were afraid of the paperwork requirements. I found this "fear" to be unwarranted in my transaction, and the seller / executo was "happy" because I didn't back out or no-show during the process.

In 2010, I purchased a vehicle from an estate for about $7,000 under book value because I was able to pay cash (cashiers check) in full when I was provided all the required paperwork for title transfer. I did confirm the necessary paperwork in advance with the DMV / county.

Since the vehicle had been financed, the actual sale transaction was handled at a bank since they had to sign over the lien paperwork. The bank official handling the transaction was familiar with the executor and estate. The paperwork provided by the bank matched the DMV requirements.

Call the DMV or the title issuing authority in advance. If the seller isn't familiar with the process at some level, walk away. If you don't have to signatures notarized, ask to see a copy of ID to verify it is the executor signing the paperwork on behalf of the estate. You may to provide for return the certified estate documents to the executor. (I think I left the copies with the DMV and provided a return envelope, but I don't recall the specifics.)

In my case, the executor was a retired attorney settling the estate for a deceased friend. Additionally, the executor and I knew each other visually from over a decade of passing on the bike trails around town during my lunchtime rides. There was a high level of transparency, and the seller's information about the process matched the information from the DMV. Having a bank perform settlement added to the comfort with the transaction.

felizcortez

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Re: Buying a car where owner is deceased
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2017, 09:28:15 PM »
https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/vr/checklists/probate

Looks like it is pretty straight forward.  I'm calling the DMV in the morning.  I went and looked at the car today and it is in great shape.