My mother-in-law died recently without a will. She has a vehicle that needs to be re-registered to her significant other, and a couple of checks that we would like to cash to take care of her funeral expenses, but no other personal property to speak of. Is there any way to take care of these things without putting it through probate. The car is only worth about $1,000 and the checks total about $700, so it hadly seems worth it to pay a lawyer and put it through the courts.
2 Answers from Attorneys
Re: Estate Question
NOTE: This communication is not intended as and should not be interpreted as legal advice. Rather, it is intended solely as a general discussion of legal principles. You should not rely on or take action based on this communication without first presenting ALL relevant details to a competent attorney in your jurisdiction and then receiving the attorney's individualized advice for you. By reading the "Response" to your question or comment, you agree that the opinion expressed is not intended to, nor does it, create any attorney-client relationship, nor does it constitute legal advice to any person reviewing such information, nor will it be considered an attorney-client privileged communication. If you do not agree, then stop right here, and do not read any further.
You should check with the local probate court in your county to see if they have any way to transfer property without property. In Miami-Dade, there is a process for very minimal assets but with a vehicle and several check, your situation may not qualify.
Scott R. Jay, Esq.
Re: Estate Question
Whoever is on the paid funeral bill as having paid should go to the Clerk Of Court, Probate division, at the county courthouse and ask about proceeding under the following statute (need a certified copy of the death certificate, copy of the bank statement, and the title to the car):
735.301 Disposition without administration.--
(1) No administration shall be required or formal proceedings instituted upon the estate of a decedent leaving only personal property exempt under the provisions of s. 732.402, personal property exempt from the claims of creditors under the Constitution of Florida, and nonexempt personal property the value of which does not exceed the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness.
(2) Upon informal application by affidavit, letter, or otherwise by any interested party, and if the court is satisfied that subsection (1) is applicable, the court, by letter or other writing under the seal of the court, may authorize the payment, transfer, or disposition of the personal property, tangible or intangible, belonging to the decedent to those persons entitled.
(3) Any person, firm, or corporation paying, delivering, or transferring property under the authorization shall be forever discharged from liability thereon.