The only asset he had was his car which has no liens on it. My father wants to transfer it to my son. My brother had a lot of unpaid medical bills. The car is only worth a few thousand. There are no other assets in the estate...no bank accounts, house etc. Can my father do this or will the hospital come after him to sell it to pay for his medical bills.
You would want to check with an attorney in your state as to whether estates are subject to medical debt in NY, or whether the car would qualify under an exemption to estate creditors. Otherwise, it would be wise to wait until the time limit for creditors to file claims against the estate has passed before retitling estate property.
This answer does not form an attorney-client relationship, and is not legal advice. Only an attorney that has agreed to represent you may give you advice specific to your situation.
I have attached a link that explains the process in NY for filing a small estate affidavit. If you have further questions, I recommend consulting with a local probate attorney.
Based on the limited information provided it appears that your father can become voluntary administrator of the estate provided the asset is under $30,000. However, asets must be liquidated to payoff creditors so if there are outstanding bills, the car could be sold for fair market value to pay the debt, but cannot just be given away to a family member as the creditor would be entitled to an accounting to see what value was received for the asset.
Generally, I agree with my colleagues answers but I would add under Section 1310(2)(f) of the SCPA, your father may be able to take the car without a lien as reimbursement for funeral expenses if he paid the funeral expenses and those expenses exceed the value of the car. All unsecured creditors would then be out. Simple and straightforward.
Most Surrogate's Court will provide a form affidavit to be completed. Some counties provide a letter from the Court after the affidavit is filed with a death certificate and other counties require a small estate affidavit to record it as part of the estate proceeding. If the latter is required, list the car by year, make, model and VIN# with a note that it is subject to SCPA 1310(2)(f) as you father would then be listed for paying the funeral bill. If the Court processes this, make sure your father also has a paid funeral receipt in his name so a certificate of appointment can be issued accordingly allow for the car to be transferred to him.
He then can thereafter transfer the car to your son.
If you find this to be a helpful answer or the best answer, please designate that for me as I appreciate your feedback and also keep in mind that no attorney-client relationship has been created by this response to the posted inquiry as it is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice but only general information for you as the questioner. Thank you.
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