When someone passes away, the executor of their estate or next of kin is responsible for handling their possessions. A typical asset they will need to take care of is their vehicle. This guide covers what happens to a deceased’s vehicle.
Distributing the vehicle
Following a death, the executor or administrator must determine who owns the vehicle when lodging the estate's assets. If a joint vehicle owner survives the deceased, the executor will transfer the vehicle ownership into their name through the relevant road authority.
However, if there is no joint owner, the executor needs to check the Will for instructions about the distribution of cars. If the Will is not clear about vehicles, or if there is no Will, the executor can either sell the vehicle and distribute the cash to the beneficiaries or distribute the car to a beneficiary.
Managing the vehicle
Regardless of what's happening with the vehicle, the executor needs to continue to manage the car. This job includes continuing to pay insurance, registration and toll accounts.
In addition, if the executor sells the vehicle or transfers the ownership, then those accounts must be updated with the new owners details or cancelled. Finally, it's important also to check if there are any outstanding fines.
Determine the value of the vehicle
Whether the executor is selling the vehicle or transferring to a beneficiary, they need to determine the car's value, the grant of probate application, and final distribution. There are several ways to receive a car valuation, including through the dealership.
Selling the vehicle
If you are selling the vehicle and it's currently registered, you can transfer the vehicle registration to another owner or cancel the registration in the relevant state or territory. If the vehicle is unregistered, you can register it to a new owner by filling out a vehicle sale form, even if it's a gift.
If the deceased has a road toll account, it can only transfer to a spouse or partner. In addition, you must pay all outstanding fees when closing the account. Any refunds or security deposits that you receive must go directly back to the estate.
Transport and Roads Across Australia
If you need to register a vehicle, follow up on outstanding fines or cancel a drivers license, here are the relevant transport and road contacts for states and territories across Australia.
- South Australia: Services SA
- Western Australia: Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS)
- Tasmania: Transport Tasmania
- Northern Territory: Motor Vehicle Registration
- Victoria: VicRoads
- New South Wales: Roads and Maritime Services
- Canberra: Access Canberra
- Queensland: Transport and Main Roads
Do you need to cancel a drivers licence?
As executor of the estate, you will need to cancel the deceased's driver license. However, before you can cancel the license, you need to apply for a grant of probate and obtain a death certificate.
Then you can contact the relevant roads department and advise them that you are the estate representative and the person is deceased. After that, you can typically cancel a licence by submitting a cancellation request.
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