Intestacy and Vehicles – Who’s left holding the VIN?
The death of a family member is always difficult, and it becomes more so when having to traverse the red tape associated with an intestacy. While having a will is the best option – even in cases with minimal assets – it may happen that you are left with a loved one’s registered vehicle and have no legal authority to do anything. In a testate estate, ie where the deceased has a valid will, the executor has authority to deal with the estate assets, including vehicles. In an intestacy, the deceased has left no documentation granting authority to anyone to deal with their estate. In this case, there are three options: an interested party can (a) apply for a certificate of estate trustee without a will, (b) try to work with the institutions holding debts and assets to transfer ownership, or (c) do nothing. The best option is generally to apply for a certificate if you want to deal with estate assets – the appointed executor will pay the deceased’s debts, taxes, and make the ultimate payment of the residue estate to the beneficiaries. However, sometimes there are no debts and only one asset in their sole name: the car.
As of the date of this article, ServiceOntario will generally permit the transfer of a vehicle to the beneficiary of a deceased person in certain circumstances: either with a court order or a lawyer’s letter indicating that the person is the legal beneficiary of the deceased. While this sounds simple, it can be complex where there is more than one beneficiary, or if the legal beneficiary cannot be located.
SV Law has a team of dedicated lawyers who practice in wills and estates – whether you want to plan ahead and make your ultimate passing easier on your loved ones, or whether you are dealing with the intricacies of a loved one’s estate, we are here to help.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and is not legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstance.