In my first blog post in this series, I introduced my new car, a 2022 Volkswagen GTI S manual, to the world and explained how vehicles fit into estate planning and estate administration. This post continues the discussion.

How does a personal representative distribute a car to an estate beneficiary during probate? As indicated in my prior post, an initial step is for the estate to pay off any existing car loans. Then, once the personal representative is ready to distribute the vehicle, a Form K will generally be needed. The King County Superior Court Clerk charges $5.00 for each Form K. Form Ks are obtained from the Clerk’s Office, along with certified copies of letters testamentary or letters of administration, once the probate has been opened and a court commissioner has signed an order appointing a personal representative to serve with nonintervention powers. Upon completion of the Form K, the personal representative can take this form along with a completed vehicle title application to the nearby vehicle licensing office to effectuate the transfer. It is a good idea to call the vehicle licensing office to determine the fees required for the transfer.

What if there is no probate? In Washington, estates with less than $100,000 in probate assets can be administered through a small estate affidavit process. In this event, the vehicle can be transferred by providing a copy of the death certificate and an Affidavit of Successor to the nearby vehicle licensing office. Similarly, if an estate is being administered through a Community Property Agreement the vehicle can be transferred by submitting a certified copy of the death certificate and a copy of the Community Property Agreement to a vehicle licensing office. The Washington Department of Licensing’s website contains more information regarding these transfers. If a car loan exists, this debt must be addressed before the vehicle can be transferred.

If you have a new car, unfortunately we cannot help you with traffic tickets or efforts to obtain your license plate despite the metal plate shortage. But if you have questions related to estate planning or estate administration, we’d be happy to assist.

This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.

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