Laurel, MD asked in Probate for Maryland

Q: My mother died with no will and her only asset is car worth less than 20,000. What can I do?

My mum passed away leaving only a car with a trade in value of $17000. The car has been paid off by credit insurance but the bank has reposed the car and would not release it to me until I prove am authorized to be given account information. I am the only imediate family member residing in the country right now.

Is there some other way I can get this done without having to go through process of opening an estate, which could take up to 2 months.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Contact MVA. Call Center- 410-768-7000. Email- MVACS@mdot.state.md.us. I believe Maryland law allows an expedited change of car title at the MVA by producing the death certificate and whatever else they need to show you are next of kin. It's not something lawyers tend to get involved in resolving.

Cedulie Renee Laumann
Cedulie Renee Laumann
Answered
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Crownsville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: Typically you'd need to open an estate and get "letters of administration" to have legal authority over assets titled in the deceased person's sole name.

Maryland has a streamlined process for small estates and if the only asset is a car worth less than $20,000, it will be a small estate. While there is still a period for creditors to assert claims a small estate has significantly less paperwork involved.

Unfortunately the MVA does NOT have a streamlined process for transferring an automobile if you were not a joint owner. If you call the MVA, they will direct you to open up an estate. http://www.mva.maryland.gov/vehicles/registration/inherit.htm Note that the law changes over time and at some point in the past a streamlined transfer of automobiles may have been allowed. However, with the current state of Maryland law the only way to get an asset out of the deceased person's name is with an estate.

While not legal advice, I hope that this general legal information helps.

Paul E. Draper agrees with this answer

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