Can someone sell a car before probate is granted?

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Can someone sell a car before probate is granted?

What to do with a loved one’s possessions is probably the last thing on your mind when they pass away. But, unfortunately, we have to finish this task. If you’re wondering how to sell a car at an estate sale, the procedure is very similar to how you would sell your car. However, there are a few extra steps. 

Even though not all assets must go through probate, many do. For example, a car that belonged exclusively to the deceased will frequently go through probate. Whether one lists the beneficiary on the title and the applicable state laws regarding vehicle transfer will determine the transfer of the vehicle to the beneficiary.

What is a Probate? 

Probate is the legal validation of a will. Moreover, probate is also the general administration of a decedent’s estate or the estate of a decedent without a will. For example, when a property owner passes away, the court names an executor from the will. Or it calls an administrator (if there is no will) to manage the probate process. This entails gathering the estate’s assets to pay outstanding debts and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries. 

  • Probate is a legal procedure examining a decedent’s assets and identifying inheritors. 
  • Typically, a will’s existence, authenticity, and legality are the main topics of probate proceedings. 
  • You can start the probate process with or without a will
  • Even when there is a will, there is a requirement of the proceeding when a deceased person’s remaining is of high value. 

Will a Probate Always Be Necessary? 

It is crucial to know whether a probate is necessary after a person’s passing. The conclusion of the probate procedure can take a long time. The settlement and distribution of the estate’s assets will take longer the more complicated or contentious it is. Cost increases as duration increases. 

Estates without a valid will typically cost more to probate than those. However, each still requires a lot of time and money. Additionally, avoiding probate guarantees that all settlements are conducted privately because a probate court’s proceedings are publicly documented. 

Different states have laws regarding probate and whether it is necessary after a testator’s death. Some states have a set estate value that necessitates probate. For instance, according to Texas’s probate laws, probate may be avoided if the estate’s value is less than $75,000. If an estate is too small to go through the probate procedure, the asset of the estate may be claimed through alternative legal systems, like an affidavit. Ordinarily, probate is not always started, and other actions may be taken if a deceased person’s debts exceed their assets. 

Can I sell my car before the grant of probate? 

As you may have guessed, every state has its specific laws. Check your state’s laws on the DMV and Department of Transportation websites. It enables us to determine what documentation is required to sell a deceased family member’s vehicle. If possible, speaking with a lawyer can help ensure you take the right actions. 

Going Through Court Permission

You must go through probate court to get permission to sell the car if there is no will. The paperwork likely includes a death certificate and a letter from the probate judge. Moreover, if there is a general agreement among the living heirs, you can list it for sale immediately. 

A car is a chattel, so you can transfer ownership of one to another person or sell it without waiting for a grant of probate or letters of administration to be issued. 

Requirement of Death Certificate

You will require your father’s death certificate and official documentation of your right to sell the car on behalf of his estate. Moreover, this could appear in the will where you are mentioned or on a letter from a solicitor confirming your right to handle the estate’s proceeds

The deceased owner had full ownership of the vehicle, you can transfer ownership by getting in touch with the DVLA, and you can sell the car or keep using it. Moreover, ensure your insurance is still in effect, and you’ll need to pay new vehicle excise duty (VED). Finally, if you choose to keep the vehicle, you must notify the DVLA that the current owner has passed away and send them a letter describing your relationship to the deceased, their date of death, their name, address, and birthdate. Therefore, you must notify the DVLA that you are the new keeper of the vehicle if you plan to keep the car. 


The secret to selling a deceased family member’s car is meticulous and well-prepared. Selling a loved one’s car can be easy if there is a will, a Transfer on Death addendum on the title, or a joint title for the vehicle. Moreover, make copies of all legal documents and research the laws in your state. Taking care of these details will make the legal process more accessible, reduce stress, and help you sell the car. 

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