Secure vehicle(s)

Immediately After a Death

Any and all vehicles owned by the deceased should be cataloged, secured, and maintained.

This helps to reduce the risk of theft and helps retain value in case the car is to be used by a family member or Beneficiary, or will be sold.

Personal Considerations


Did the deceased have a vehicle?


Ensure that it's parked or stored somewhere safe, and make sure not to accumulate parking tickets or risk having it towed.

Keep the keys in a secure location, and if vehicles are to be driven by surviving family members, make sure to maintain insurance policies.

Similarly, be aware of any vehicle or tag registration fees and deadlines associated with the vehicles if they will continue to be driven.

If there are any open loans on the vehicle, continue to pay it until a decision is made as to whether it will be kept or sold.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If the vehicle is leased, speak with the dealership because the terms of the lease may dictate ownership status. For example, Joint Account Holders may need to uphold the lease if their name is on the contract. However, the dealer may just take the car back if the joint account-holder is not interested in the vehicle.

Continue regular maintenance and care Then the vehicle(s) can either be used by the deceased's next of kin or beneficiaries, or sold to pay off the estate's debt.

Make sure to keep good records of all expenses associated with the deceased’s vehicles so that you can be reimbursed during Probate.

However, make sure not to give the car to beneficiaries or Next of Kin until the Estate is settled during probate.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Distributing assets before probate court authorization may lead to problems or disputes, especially if a person takes an item they aren't entitled to.

Guides_Icon.svg*Read More For more information about managing a deceased person's assets during probate, including distributing to beneficiaries and next of kin, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.


Continue to ensure that all other property and valuables are safe and secure.


If the deceased had a vehicle:

Ensure that it's parked or stored somewhere safe, and make sure not to accumulate parking tickets or risk having it towed.

Keep the keys in a secure location, and if vehicles are to be driven by surviving family members, make sure to maintain insurance policies.

Similarly, be aware of any vehicle or tag registration fees and deadlines associated with the vehicles if they will continue to be driven.

If there are any open loans on the vehicle, continue to pay it until a decision is made as to whether it will be kept or sold.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If the vehicle is leased, speak with the dealership because the terms of the lease may dictate ownership status. For example, Joint Account Holders may need to uphold the lease if their name is on the contract. However, the dealer may just take the car back if the joint account-holder is not interested in the vehicle.

Continue regular maintenance and care Then the vehicle(s) can either be used by the deceased's next of kin or beneficiaries, or sold to pay off the estate's debt.

Make sure to keep good records of all expenses associated with the deceased’s vehicles so that you can be reimbursed during Probate.

However, make sure not to give the car to beneficiaries or Next of Kin until the Estate is settled during probate.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Distributing assets before probate court authorization may lead to problems or disputes, especially if a person takes an item they aren't entitled to.

Guides_Icon.svg*Read More For more information about managing a deceased person's assets during probate, including distributing to beneficiaries and next of kin, see the "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

If the deceased did not have a vehicle:

Continue to ensure that all other property and valuables are safe and secure.

Providers to Contact


Probate Attorneys Near You

Probate Attorneys can help you access the deceased’s property and gather and catalog assets. They help settle a deceased person’s estate and ensure you comply with all relevant laws and procedures.

No results in your area.


Immediately After a Death