How to transfer a car title when owner is deceased in Michigan

Ive been asked this question quite a bit lately: my relative passed away. He/she had a car, not really worth all that much. Is there a way we can just transfer that without a court

How to transfer a car title when owner is deceased in Michigan

Ive been asked this question quite a bit lately: my relative passed away. He/she had a car, not really worth all that much. Is there a way we can just transfer that without a court proceeding? The short answer is . . . maybe. As with many legal questions, it depends on the specific facts and circumstances of your situation. For example, if the automobile was in a trust (not something I recommend), then you must transfer it according to the terms of the trust. And, if there is property that would require opening a probate estate to transfer it, then the automobile will be a part of that probate estate.

But, Michigan does have a quick transfer procedure available if certain requirements are met. The requirements are:

  • The total values of the vehicles (all together) must be under $60,000, and
  • There must be no other property for which a probate proceeding (formal or informal) is necessary.

If your situation meets those requirements, you can usethis Secretary of State Form TR-29to transfer the vehicle(s) to the deceased persons heirs. The person signing the form certifies that there is no probate proceeding pending for the decedents estate and that no probate proceeding will be started in the future. If available, the vehicle title must be attached to this form. The form requires that the following vehicle information be provided: year, make, body style, vehicle number, and title number. If the vehicle is being transferred to someone other than the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse must certify that the title is free of all liens.

You can find some additional helpful information atthis State of Michigan website. Have questions? Contact us here.


Michael Lichtermanis an estate planning and elder law attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy through caring and comprehensive planning. This goes beyond merely planning for stuff  its about who you are and what is important to you. He focuses on estate, charitable, and asset protection planning for all generations (young and experienced), the sandwich generation (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses, medicaid planning, and medicaid qualification He enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients centered and is honored to consider many client families as close friends.

Joel Baar


I am blessed. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know our clients, understanding the legal issues that are presented, and working with them in a meaningful yet practical manner to solve a problem.

The best days for Joel are when he is presented a problem, and helps a client work creatively towards a practical resolution that makes sense. His practice focuses on working with businesses on a variety of legal matters, including business formation, business sale and acquisition, contract negotiation, employment matters and general business advice. He also has developed a thriving real estate practice, working with businesses and individuals in the sale and purchase of real estate, landlord-tenant matters, land contacts, zoning / municipal compliance and related issues. He works with contractors, subcontractors and suppliers in construction-related issues, and has been recognized for his work in the area of the Michigan Construction Lien Act and the Michigan Builders Trust Fund Act.

Joel is one of those attorneys who places an emphasis on the Counsellor at Law role. If a problem cannot be resolved through negotiation, there are times when the advocate role needs to be utilized. Towards that end, Joel has handled a variety of civil litigation matters over the years, primarily issues involving business disputes, real estate disputes, collections and other general civil litigation issues. Joels experience as a professional and practical problem-solver comes in useful in navigating complex litigation and legal issues.

One area that Joel has distinguished himself as an attorney is his work with various non-profits organizations. He is frequently consulted by churches and non-profits on a variety of legal issues, and has always viewed his role in the non-profit world as a way of giving back to our community in a meaningful and practical way.

When he is not busy helping clients, Joel enjoys spending time with his wife, Renee, and children, Quinn, Bryce and Noelle, and especially enjoy their time vacationing in Northern Michigan. As part of a baseball family, Joel can often be found watching baseball games in the summer, and has coached sports team for his children for many years. An avid reader, Joel enjoys reading about U.S. History, baseball-related history, legal thrillers and general mysteries. He has quite a collection of classic mystery novels. Joel is often asked to serve on non-profit boards, has served on various boards at Fellowship Reformed Church as Vice-President, Elder and Deacon. He is currently serving as the Board President for the Alliance of Reformed Church. He has also been a Board member at Love INC, and has been active in both the Grandville-Jenison Chamber and the Hudsonville Area Chamber.

Joel received his juris doctorate / law degree (magna cum laude) from the Valparaiso University School of Law in Indiana. He holds a Bachelor of Science from Grand Valley State University, where he graduated from the Honors Program. During law school, Joel clerked / externed for the Honorable Kenneth F. Ripple of the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit (Chicago). This externship helped shape Joels legal career as a professional problem-solver with a keen, analytical mind. Joel also had the honor of being one of four students at Valpo to argue a case in front of a panel of distinguished jurists, including the Honorable Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court. Following law school, Joel worked for the largest mid-Michigan based law firm, where he gained invaluable experience working alongside some of the finest attorneys in the State of Michigan. After 5 years and after starting a family, it was time to come back home to West Michigan, where Joel quickly built a legal practice with many loyal and long-time clients.

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