Many heirs and legatees (persons who are left assets in a Last Will and Testament) of estates mistakenly believe that once a person dies, they are immediately entitled to change assets, such as vehicles, into their names. Regardless of whether a vehicle is promised to an heir or legatee orally, or otherwise, and regardless of whether such person had been given permission to drive and/or was making payments on the vehicle, the vehicle could not be transferred under Maryland law, without going through a court probate proceeding. If the vehicle is worth less than $50,000.00, a Maryland Small Estate would have to be opened, a Personal Representative would have to be appointed and then the vehicle could potentially be transferred. Needless to say, if there are few assets to be transferred to an heir or legatee, the probate process, even for a Small Estate can be both time-consuming and expensive.
Fortunately, the procedure for transferring a vehicle in Maryland is about to change. Beginning in April, 2014, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration will publish new rules that will allow vehicles to be “transferred on death”. That is, just as bank accounts and other assets many be titled as “payable on death”, soon vehicles will not have to be transferred via an estate. This change will go a long way toward simplification of the probate process, as well as providing families with an easier, more user-friendly transition of assets after their loved one has passed.
For more information or for a consultation regarding your legal issues, please contact McCollum & Associates, LLC, at (301) 864-6070, www.jmlaw.net, or email@example.com.
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