How to Transfer a Vehicle Title After Death

Written by jamie lisse | 13/05/2017
How to Transfer a Vehicle Title After Death
Who will get the car and how? (a car in a car show image by Gary from

When someone who owns a vehicle passes away, a variety of things can happen with that vehicle. If the vehicle is titled with a joint owner, then the title transfer is simple. After that, it can get a little tricky. If the deceased person left a will, then it may have specific directions on what is to be done with the vehicle. If there is no will, then the parties interested in the vehicle must go to probate court so that the court can decide what happens with the vehicle.

Obtain a copy of the death certificate from your state's vital records department. Typically, this is through your state department of health.

Visit your local motor vehicle title processing office to transfer the title. In some states, this is just your local department of motor vehicles office, while other states process vehicle titles at the county clerk's office or even through the secretary of state.

Present the current vehicle title and the death certificate if you are the spouse of the deceased or listed jointly on the title. In most states, this is all that is required to transfer the title. In some states, the spouse can wait to transfer the title until the current registration expires. You will need to pay the title transfer fees, which varies by state.

Give the clerk a notarised copy of the deceased's will if you are inheriting the vehicle and you are not the spouse. You must present this with the death certificate and current title to transfer the vehicle title. You will also need to complete a transfer form and pay the title transfer fee, which varies by state.

Show the clerk your court-appointed probate document if you or the estate have been granted the vehicle in probate court. You will also need the death certificate and current title. In addition, you must fill out the title transfer form and pay the transfer fees, which vary by state.

Things you need

  • Death certificate
  • Will
  • Probate documents

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