There are different options when a deceased person leaves behind a car. The options involved:
1. Transfer of car ownership after death in Singapore.
2. Sell the car.
3. De-register the car and dispose of the car.
Ownership of the Car
If the deceased had executed a Will, the car will be given to the beneficiary as per the Will. If the deceased did not execute a Will, or if the Will did not indicate the beneficiary of the car, the car will be subject to distribution under Section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act.
The executor (or administrator, in the case that the deceased did not leave behind a Will) will apply to the Court for a grant of probate/ letters of administration. The grant of probate/ letters of administration is a Court order allowing for the executor/ administrator to administer the estate of the deceased, including the car.
Transfer of Car Ownership After Death in Singapore
The car can only be transferred if there is no outstanding matter, such as car loan or road tax arrears. The car should also be more than 3 months old if it is registered with a Cat A/ Cat B COE. Transfer of car ownership after death in Singapore can only take place after the grant of probate/ letters of administration.
If there is an outstanding car loan, the loan can be paid out of the deceased’s estate.
If the car was acquired using a hire-purchase scheme, this means that the legal ownership of the car belongs to the hire-purchase company until the car loan is fully paid up. The hire-purchase company can repossess the car and sell it to cover the unpaid loan. If the proceeds from the sale is insufficient to cover the car loan, the outstanding amount will be paid out of the estate of the deceased.
If the car loan is fully repaid, repossession can be avoided. The new owner may take up a new car loan to repay the previous loan.
The executor/ administrator, with the grant of probate/ letters of administration, may apply to transfer the car to his/ her name.
The new owner can sell the car, if there is no intention to retain ownership of the car. The car may also be deregistered. A pro-rated rebate will be granted when a car is de-registered before the expiry of the COE.
Can Car Be Driven Prior to the Transfer of Car Ownership After Death in Singapore?
Yes, provided that:
1. The road tax has been paid up.
2. And motor insurance has been taken up in the name of the deceased’s estate.
If a car is driven prior to the transfer of car ownership and the above requirements are not met, the driver may be liable for the following offences:
1. Driving without road tax.
2. Driving without valid motor insurance coverage.
For more information on the transfer of car ownership after death in Singapore, you should speak to an experienced probate lawyer, especially on the procedure of obtaining a grant of probate/ letters of administration.
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