This past Thursday, I spent the day in Livonia teaching a continuing professional education class about estate administration for the Michigan Association of CPA’s. One of the topics I discussed with a room full of CPA’s was the transfer of homes to the loved ones of the deceased. What if you own a mobile home? How does it get to your loved ones after you are gone?
Prior to 1978, mobile homes were considered trailer coaches, and were transferred just like any other vehicle. However since 1978, mobile homes are not considered vehicles. Transferring mobile home titles is done similarly to vehicle titles, but there are some differences.
If your mobile home is in your sole name, the total value of all titled mobile homes you own at the time of your death is less than $10,000 and you have no other real or personal property that needs to be probated through the probate court process, your next of kin can just transfer your mobile home into their name just like any vehicle. All they would need to do is go to the Secretary of State with your death certificate, the mobile home title, identification, and fill out the form TR-29, Certification From the Heir to a Vehicle. The form is at the Secretary of State office or it can be found online at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/tr-29_16195_7.pdf. Sometimes, you will be asked for proof of heirship, such as a marriage license or a birth certificate.
When you leave a surviving spouse, he or she would be your sole next of kin and the only one who needs to sign off to transfer the mobile home into his or her sole name. If you have no surviving spouse and just children, then typically all of the children must complete and sign a form TR-29, Certification From the Heir to a Vehicle in order to get the vehicle into their names. If any of the kids do not want to have any interest in the vehicle, they need to fill out the form TR-34, Certification indicating such. This form is also at the Secretary of State office or it can be found online at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/tr-34_16194_7.pdf.
Your loved ones can still avoid probate court proceedings even if your titled mobile home is worth more than $10,000. If the total value of your net estate in your sole name, including the mobile home is less than $22,000 in 2017 and does not include any real estate, your heirs can transfer your titled mobile home by affidavit.
In such cases, to transfer your titled mobile home, all your loved ones need to do is go to their local Secretary of State’s office with your mobile home title, a certified copy of your death certificate and a sworn statement which complies with Michigan statute. The form for the sworn statement is called an Affidavit of Decedent’s Successor for Delivery of Certain Assets Owned by Decedent and is Michigan court form PC 598. The form can be found on the state website at: http://courts.mi.gov/Administration/SCAO/Forms/courtforms/estatestrusts/pc598.pdf.
When your titled mobile home is in joint names with rights of survivorship, there would also be no probate. Your surviving joint owner(s) would need to go to the Secretary of State office with the title, your death certificate and their identification to transfer the your home out of your name and into their name(s).
If your titled mobile home cannot be transferred using the non-probate procedures, it will need to be probated through the general probate court process with the rest of your real and personal property. Your probate court appointed personal representative (used to be called executor) would take his or her Letters of Authority issued by the court to a Secretary of State office and then transfer the home in accordance with your will.
When your estate has to be probated and you left no will, your personal representative would transfer the titled mobile home to your survivors in accordance to the rules of intestate succession. The rules of intestate succession are just fancy words for who will get your stuff if you died without a will. These persons would be your next of kin: spouse, kids, grandkids, etc.
But it may be that you put your mobile home onto real estate you owned and cancelled the mobile home title by filing and recording Form BCC-961 Affidavit of Affixture of Manufactured Home. In such instance, your mobile home is considered part of your real estate and is transferred with the real estate. In such instance, if the total value of your net estate in your sole name, including the mobile home and real estate is less than $22,000 in 2017, your heirs can transfer your mobile home along with the real estate by filing and recording Michigan court form PC556 Petition and Order for Assignment.
When the mobile home has been affixed to the real estate and the value of the real estate and mobile home is more than $22,000 in 2017, it will need to be probated through the general probate court process with the rest of your real and personal property. Your probate court appointed personal representative would take his or her Letters of Authority issued by the court and deed the real estate with the attached mobile home in accordance with your will.
When the mobile home is part of the real estate going through the probate court process and your personal representative wanted to transfer the real estate and mobile home to different people, they can do so. Your personal representative can reinstate the title to your mobile home by filing and recording Form BCC-995 Affidavit of Detachment of Manufactured Home and taking the filed/recorded detachment form to their local Secretary of State office to apply for a replacement title in the name of your estate. Your real estate and mobile home could then be transferred separately by your personal representative.
The best thing your heirs can do is to consult with an experienced estate settlement attorney after your death. The attorney should be able to review your mobile home title, loan agreement and other real and personal property, and then make a determination of what needs to be done.
By Matthew M. Wallace, CPA, JD
Published edited June 11, 2017 in The Times Herald newspaper Port Huron, Michigan as: What do we do with the mobile home?