Motorcycles, Death and the DMV
March 10, 2014 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Background: I was in the middle of doing a mild restoration on my little brother's bike two years ago (2000 ZX-7R) when he died very unexpectedly. I don't know what to do with it now and just realized that it hasn't been registered since 2008.

Since his wife and my nephew have no interest in keeping it I'm thinking about donating it to a charity in the wife's name so she can use it as a tax write-off...but then there is the registration problem. They are both in a tight situation now and living with my Mom. I'm trying to figure out how to turn this into an asset instead of a liability for them.

I don't know what to do. Any ideas? MANY thanks in advance!
posted by snsranch to Law & Government (6 answers total)
It belongs to his estate, if it's registered in his name, you can probably go to the DMV with whatever papers you have and his death certificate and get it registered.

Do call the local DMV and find out for sure, they'll let you know exactly what all you need to register it for sale or donation.

The other thing you can do is sell it for parts.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:01 PM on March 10, 2014

As long as you have the title, can't you just sell it on Craigslist?
posted by Slinga at 6:01 PM on March 10, 2014

This will depend on what state you're in. Should not matter if it's registered as long as it's titled, it just means people shouldn't take it for test drives. I had to get my father's car retitled when he died and I needed his death certificate and something that said I was executor of his estate and then I needed to fill out some paperwork but they're used this and the DMV website may even say how to do it. His wife can probably get the DMV to retitle it in her name if it's a common property state or she's the next of kin. They should be able to spell it out for you and then you can walk them through it. I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by jessamyn at 6:06 PM on March 10, 2014

Some charities, like this one, accept vehicles with no title or similar issues.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:37 PM on March 10, 2014

OK, thanks folks, that all makes sense. I appreciate the help!
posted by snsranch at 6:49 PM on March 10, 2014

You should probably have your brother's estate sign the title over to his wife, or have the estate donate it (sign the title over) directly to the charity, making the donation in her name. IANAL and I don't know how this works, so it's probably best to talk to the attorney who is handling his estate.

Do you mean "unregistered" as in "the plate was turned in" or "the registration expired and the plate's still on the bike?" This matters in some states -- some states require the plates to be turned in in order to cancel the insurance policy and/or property tax on the bike; they can come after your brother's estate for the unpaid insurance or taxes.

I see from your profile that you're in California. Here's some limited information from CA DMV on inherited or gifted vehicles. If your brother wasn't also a Californian, you'll want to check with his state's DMV/RMV/BMV/MVA/whatever to figure this out. But your first call should probably be to the lawyer handling his estate.
posted by tckma at 11:08 AM on March 11, 2014

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