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How to Transfer Ownership of a Vehicle After Death in BC

Need to transfer an estate vehicle in BC? Our guide has you covered. follow our simple step-by-step guide to get it done:

How to Transfer Ownership of a Vehicle After Death in BC

As the executor of an estate, you shoulder the responsibility of transferring the deceased's property as they outlined in their will.

This fiduciary responsibility extends to the vehicles that the deceased owned.

In this article, we'll detail the steps required to transfer vehicle ownership after death of the owner in British Columbia - whether it's through a sale, or familial transfer, including the necessary ICBC documents.

Documents Required for Vehicle Transfer After Owner's Death in BC

Initiating the transfer of car ownership with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) requires several key documents. While the exact documents needed may vary depending on the estate’s circumstances, the following are commonly required:

  • Death Certificate: Acts as the official proof of death.
  • Vehicle Registration: Confirms the specific details of the vehicle.
  • Probate Documents: Establishes the executor’s legal authority to manage the estate. (Grant of Probate if deceased had a will, Grant of administration if deceased passed without a will)

These documents are essential for a valid transfer process, ensuring that the vehicle ownership is legally passed on from the deceased to the rightful new owner. ICBC has prepared a checklist of required documents, which can be found here.

Steps to Take Before Contacting ICBC

Before reaching out to ICBC, personal representatives should gather all relevant documents which will ensure a streamlined and smoother transfer and then contact an Autoplan Broker.

Similarly, personal representatives should ensure that the vehicle is not encumbered by any liens and that all insurance policies are up to date. Additionally, it’s important to check if there are any outstanding fines or tolls associated with the vehicle. Finally, it is important to cancel the deceased driver's license and notify ICBC of the death.

How To Transfer Vehicle Ownership After Owner's Death in British Columbia (Step-by-Step)

Transferring vehicle ownership after death in British Columbia is a multi-step process that involves several legal and administrative tasks. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the process:

Step-by-Step Guide to Transfer an Estate Vehicle in BC:

1. Notification of Death:

  • Action: The executor or the estate representative must notify the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) of the owner’s death.
  • Required: Provide an original or certified copy of the death certificate to ICBC.

2. Gathering Necessary Documents:

  • Collect the vehicle registration to confirm the vehicle's details.
  • Obtain probate documents to establish the executor’s authority to manage the estate. This includes:
    • A Death Certificate.
    • The Will, if applicable, to identify the executor and beneficiaries.
    • A Grant of Probate or Grant of Administration for cases where there is no will or to formalize the executor’s authority.
    • For estates under $25,000, an original notarized Estate Declaration $25000 and Under (MV1476) may be required.

3. Completing Transfer Forms:

  • Complete a Transfer/Tax Form (APV9T), which is essential for the vehicle transfer process. This form can be acquired at any Autoplan broker’s office or online. Ensure all sections of the document are fully completed.

4. Submission to Autoplan Broker:

  • Submit the completed Transfer/Tax Form along with the other required documents to an Autoplan broker. The broker will facilitate the transfer of the vehicle to the new owner.

5. Settling Liens and Paying Fines:

  • Ensure any liens or other encumbrances on the vehicle, such as unpaid fines or red light camera tickets, are resolved. This responsibility typically falls to the executor.

6. Updating Insurance:

  • The executor must ensure that the vehicle’s insurance is updated to reflect the new ownership. This process may involve purchasing new insurance, transferring existing insurance, or canceling the policy outright.

7. Handling Plates:

  • If the surviving spouse wishes to retain the license plate as a keepsake, they will need to provide a valid marriage certificate or a notarized statutory declaration (MV1486).

8. Canceling Services:

  • Cancel any services associated with the deceased, such as their driver’s license or parking passes, to prevent identity theft or fraud.

9. Dealing with Joint Ownership:

  • In cases of joint ownership, the process might differ. Survivor rights may allow for direct transfer to the surviving joint tenant without undergoing the standard transfer process.

Checklist for Estate Transfers:

ICBC provides a detailed checklist for estate transfers, summarizing the support documents and signatures required for various estate vehicle transactions. This checklist should be consulted to ensure compliance with all requirements.

Tips for a Smooth Transition

For a smooth transition, it’s advisable to contact ICBC during non-peak hours and seek professional advice. Filling out documentation accurately and maintaining good record keeping is also a key to ensuring a smoother transfer.

Both the ICBC website and the Government of British Columbia website provide additional information for dealing with estates after death. ClearEstate has similarly provided some more detailed information on probate and intestate succession in BC, which help clarify the seemingly overwhelming processes.

Special Considerations in the Transfer Process

Joint Ownership and Survivor Rights

As aforementioned, there may be instances where a vehicle is owned by more than one individual, generally a spouse. In British Columbia, when a vehicle is co-owned as joint tenancy, the right of survivorship allows the vehicle to automatically pass to the surviving owner(s) upon the death of one owner, bypassing the need for probate. In this case ICBC requires the surviving owner to provide a death certificate to authorize the transfer and the vehicle's registration.

When a Will is Present vs. Intestate Succession

As mentioned, a vehicle is considered as part of the deceased’s estate and property, meaning that a will should indicate the beneficiaries of the vehicle. In contrast, when there is no will the beneficiaries will be identified through intestate succession, which involves the distribution of assets according to provincial laws. These rules are set out in the Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA) and determine the hierarchy of beneficiaries, which typically includes the spouse and children first, followed by other relatives if there are no immediate family members. ICBC requires the Grant of Administration in order to legalize the transfer of vehicles after death.

Need help with vehicle transfer?

Transferring the vehicle ownership of the deceased in British Columbia requires multiple forms and strict guidelines to follow - Whether through a will, survivorship rights, or intestate succession, it's essential for executors to ensure the process respects the deceased's wishes and adheres to legal standards.

Recognizing the complexity of these tasks, we offer our expertise to simplify the estate transfer process. Book a free consultation with us for tailored assistance in managing estate transfers in probate, ensuring a seamless and respectful ownership transition. Act now to fulfill your duties with confidence and ease.

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