How to Transfer Vehicle Ownership From a Deceased Loved One

To transfer vehicle ownership once a loved one has passed, a legal process through a probate court or a non-probate title transfer is required. This process to transfer car title after a death of a loved one depends whether the deceased left a will, the statements in the will and/or the details of the car’s title including the terms of ownership of the vehicle. States have different rules regarding eligibility for transferring a vehicle ownership. The steps to transfer vehicle ownership from deceased person also vary on a state-by-state basis, although most states follow a similar process. This process may become complicated depending on the legal situation surrounding the death, so it is important to understand all of the steps required. Consulting your attorney and your local probate court during this process will be very helpful. Learn more about transferring a car title after death for seniors in the sections below.

Senior Eligibility to Transfer a Vehicle Ownership

Before starting the process of transferring a car title after death of your loved one, determine eligibility based on the legal situation surrounding the estate of the deceased. The court will transfer a vehicle ownership if you inherited a car as stated in the will of your loved one. You are also eligible to transfer ownership of a vehicle as a senior if you are stated as a joint owner with right to survivorship or beneficiary on the vehicle title. Being a joint owner with the ability to claim vehicle ownership means your name is on the title of the vehicle as an owner or beneficiary with certain words signifying the right to survivorship.

Both situations allow you to transfer vehicle ownership from deceased person by providing the appropriate documents described in the next section. If the deceased did not leave a will outlining the inheritance of their assets and you are determined as next of kin, you may be eligible for ownership of the vehicle. You are not eligible to transfer ownership of a vehicle if you are stated as a joint owner without the right to survivorship unless you can prove you are handling the estate of the deceased. Consult your local DMV office to determine your eligibility and any state laws that may affect the transfer process.

Required Documents for Transferring a Car Title After Death

The documents needed to transfer a vehicle ownership vary by state as does the legal process. However, most states require the same basic documents to transfer a car title after death including the certificate of title, your valid ID, death certificate and transfer form. Some states also require an odometer disclosure affidavit. The title of the vehicle is extremely important when transferring vehicle ownership as it proves legal ownership and registration of the car by the deceased. The title also defines who has joint ownership with right to survivorship or is a beneficiary to the car. The death certificate proves your loved one has died and is the original owner or joint owner on the title of the vehicle. Next, to transfer vehicle ownership from deceased person, a transfer form is required that outlines the entitlement information of the transfer. An odometer affidavit states the number of miles on the odometer of the car being transferred and is used in the creation of a new certificate of title in your name. You can receive these forms in person at the DMV, by phone and online, depending on the state. Get more information on these required documents by downloading our free guide.

How to Transfer a Vehicle Ownership From the Deceased

The first step to transfer a car title after death for seniors is determining whether the estate of the deceased is under probate or not. Most transfers of vehicle ownership occur through probate, which is the process of distributing items owned by the deceased according to their will. A local probate court presides over this process, which could last a significant period of time. Under probate, the vehicle will be placed in your name automatically if you are listed as the inheritor of the car. If there is a will but it does not specify an inheritor for the vehicle, a non-probate process may be followed. Many people try to transfer a vehicle ownership by a non-probate route first because the probate process is lengthy and can incur expensive attorney and court fees.

However, to transfer car title after a death without probate, specific conditions must be met. These requirements vary on a state-by-state basis, usually involving a determination of rightful car ownership using the title and/or relevant state law. Once non-probate ownership has been determined, gather the documents mentioned above and the fees required for transferring the car title to your name. Additional documents and fees to transfer vehicle ownership from deceased person may be needed based on the transfer situation of the car, state specific laws and status of the vehicle. Bring these documents to your local DMV office, where they will verify the documents and instate the new title in your name. If your name was not on the original title, you may have to re-register the car in your name. Last, pay the fee to transfer car title after death and other relevant costs associated with new ownership or selling the vehicle. Fees vary by state and may include a transfer fee and/or new registration fee. Download our free guide on transferring vehicle ownership from a deceased person for more detailed information about the probate and non-probate processes.


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