Many people pass away in Louisiana each year with vehicles titled in their name. Often, surviving heirs want to transfer the title out of the name of the deceased so that the vehicle can be sold, traded in, or driven and insured.
One way to make sure that a vehicle gets transferred to the rightful owner is for all of the heirs to go through the full-blown Louisiana judicial Succession proceeding. When this takes place, the family hires one or more attorneys, Succession pleadings are prepared, detailed lists of assets and debts are submitted to the court, and a judge signs various court orders ordering that assets, including vehicles, be transferred to the right people. Most people feel like this is a hassle - because it is.
However, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections, Office of Motor Vehicles, has an Affidavit procedure that surviving spouses and heirs can take advantage of to transfer a vehicle after a vehicle owner dies.
The Affidavit of Heirship requires that a copy of the Death Certificate or a Published Obituary be attached to the Affidavit. It also must be indicated whether the vehicle owner died with no Will (intestate) or with a Last Will (testate). If the person died testate, a copy of the Will must be attached (or a notarized summary statement of Will contents). You must also attach the title or check off that the title cannot be located.
For example, let's say Dad had a Will leaving any vehicles he owned to Mom. Mom must sign the affidavit and have her signature notarized. In addition, Dad's children must all sign the Affidavit and have their signatures notarized. The rationale is that since Dad's Will is not going through the courts to be probated, then the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles want Dad's children to "sign off" on the transfer of title to Mom. If Mom later wants to donate the vehicle to someone else, she can then execute an Act of Donation to the ultimate recipient.
Even though in most cases, the full blown Succession judicial proceeding will be necessary when a vehicle owner dies because they will also own a home, other real estate, investments, or other Succession assets in their name, this procedure can simplify things for families when they are quickly trying to transfer a vehicle after the owner dies.
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