§ 20-77. Transfer by operation of law; sale under mechanic's or storage lien; unclaimed vehicles.
(a) Whenever the title or interest of an owner in or to a vehicle shall pass to another by operation of law, as upon order in bankruptcy, execution sale, repossession upon default in performing the terms of a lease or executory sales contract, or otherwise than by voluntary transfer, the transferee shall secure a new certificate of title upon proper application, payment of the fees provided by law, and presentation of the last certificate of title, if available and such instruments or documents of authority or certified copies thereof as may be sufficient or required by law to evidence or effect a transfer of interest in or to chattels in such cases.
(b) In the event of transfer as upon inheritance or devise, the Division shall, upon a receipt of a certified copy of a will, letters of administration and/or a certificate from the clerk of the superior court showing that the motor vehicle registered in the name of the decedent owner has been assigned to the owner's surviving spouse as part of the spousal year's allowance, transfer both title and license as otherwise provided for transfers. If a decedent dies intestate and no administrator has qualified or the clerk of superior court has not issued a certificate of assignment as part of the spousal year's allowance, or if a decedent dies testate with a small estate and leaving a purported will, which, in the opinion of the clerk of superior court, does not justify the expense of probate and administration and probate and administration is not demanded by any interested party entitled by law to demand same, and provided that the purported will is filed in the public records of the office of the clerk of the superior court, the Division may upon affidavit executed by all heirs effect such transfer. The affidavit shall state the name of the decedent, date of death, that the decedent died intestate or testate and no administration is pending or expected, that all debts have been paid or that the proceeds from the transfer will be used for that purpose, the names, ages and relationship of all heirs and devisees (if there be a purported will), and the name and address of the transferee of the title. A surviving spouse may execute the affidavit and transfer the interest of the decedent's minor or incompetent children where such minor or incompetent does not have a guardian. A transfer under this subsection shall not affect the validity nor be in prejudice of any creditor's lien.
(c) Mechanic's or Storage Lien. - In any case where a vehicle is sold under a mechanic's or storage lien, or abandoned property, the Division shall be given a 20-day notice as provided in G.S. 20-114.
(d) An operator of a place of business for garaging, repairing, parking or storing vehicles for the public in which a vehicle remains unclaimed for 10 days, or the landowners upon whose property a motor vehicle has been abandoned for more than 30 days, shall, within five days after the expiration of that period, report the vehicle as unclaimed to the Division. Failure to make such report shall constitute a Class 3 misdemeanor. Persons who are required to make this report and who fail to do so within the time period specified may collect other charges due but may not collect storage charges for the period of time between when they were required to make this report and when they actually did send the report to the Division by certified mail.
Any vehicle which remains unclaimed after report is made to the Division may be sold by such operator or landowner in accordance with the provisions relating to the enforcement of liens and the application of proceeds of sale of Article 1 of Chapter 44A.
(e) Any person, who shall sell a vehicle to satisfy a mechanic's or storage lien or any person who shall sell a vehicle as upon order in bankruptcy, execution sale, repossession upon default in performing the terms of a lease or executory sales contract, or otherwise by operation of law, shall remove any license plates attached thereto and return them to the Division. (1937, c. 407, s. 41; 1943, c. 726; 1945, cc. 289, 714; 1955, c. 296, s. 1; 1959, c. 1264, s. 3; 1961, c. 360, ss. 12, 13; 1967, c. 562, s. 8; 1971, cc. 230, 512, 876; 1973, c. 1386, ss. 1, 2; c. 1446, s. 21; 1975, c. 438, s. 2; c. 716, s. 5; 1993, c. 539, s. 342; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 635, s. 1; 2003-336, s. 1; 2011-284, s. 14.)