Transferring vehicle titles with letters of administration limited authority issue at CA DMV.
I was appointed administrator of my late fathers estate. I have limited authority as that is what I requested. The only property I can't sell or transfer is real property without the courts approval. So, I took my certified letter of administration to the DMV here in CA (where my father lived as do I) along with my fathers death certificate & the titles of his vehicles to be transferred to my name for the time being. The clerk took all the documents had me sign the titles with my Dads name: by "my name"-: administrator. He then filled out this form and had me sign date and print my name. Then he finished the processed, had me pay the fees then gave me printed registration forms that showed me as the registered owner and said the titles will take a couple weeks. So, as I am sitting here looking at papers I see that this form he had me sign is called a REG5, that is supposed to be used if we are not in probate, in which we are. He knew that cause he took a copy of my letter of administration... Did he make an error? If so what do I do? I don't want to get into trouble with the courts if this clerk had me sign docs I wasn't supposed to sign. Thank you!!
4 attorney answers
The laws concerning estate administration are different from state to state so you will need to seek the advice of an attorney in CA.
What you describe should not be an issue as long as you are the sole heir and entitled to the car. If you are not, you will have to account for the car and "buy" it from the estate if you want to leave it in your name. Otherwise, you will need to take one more step and transfer it to all interested persons or the person who ultimately buys it. You will not get in trouble with what happened. You will only get in trouble if the car isn't properly accounted for in the case of other heirs.
First, unless the court ordered that you take possession of the vehicles personally, you need to be very careful. Yes the DMV made a mistake but that isn't your biggest problem. If there are other heirs of the estate, then you they have an equal share of the value of the vehicles. AND, you also need to have their value appraised and you must inventory them as part of your responsibility and you must inform the other heirs. You need legal help from a probate attorney.
If you are both personal administrator of estate and sole heir, no problem.
If both of above not true, you will need to take additional steps including:
-obtaining court approval of transfer from estate to intended owner;
-distributing property from estate to intended owner