If my dad passed away recently, what are my rights to his assets?

UPDATED: Dec 13, 2013

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If my dad passed away recently, what are my rights to his assets?

Since his estate was so small I didn’t want to go through probate so I waited the necessary 40 days and transferred his vehicle into my name. I am now the registered legal owner per the DMV. He rented a room from my cousin and that is where the car was parked and the keys were in her home in his room. She has refused to give me the keys or tell me has his car. I tried to file a stolen car report with the police but they said they can’t file a report because I have no way of proving that he wanted me to have the car and that the DMV doesn’t force the descendant to go through probate to change title so anyone could claim they were entitled to the car. Is this correct? Do I have any recourse?

Asked on December 13, 2013 under Estate Planning, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Maybe on some level what the police said was accurate, but if you are his only living relative then his assets - all of his assets - would go to you upon his death.  WHat you may need to do is to go to Probate Court and file a small estate affidavit which is also known as an affidavit for collection of property. This way you can file the report and/or have the car.  Good luck.

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