How to Sell a Deceased Person's Car

Updated November 22, 2016

When someone dies, disposing of the person's personal property can become quite an undertaking. Although every state or country has their own precise procedure for selling a deceased person's car, there are general steps everyone must take. Knowing the proper procedure for transferring and selling a deceased person's vehicle before you advertise it will eliminate stress and potential problems.

Locate the nearest branch of your state's department of motor vehicles (DMV), or go to the official DMV state website.

Inquire to the DMV clerk what steps must be taken to transfer the title of a vehicle out of a deceased person's ownership. This information will also be on the DMV website and often it is faster to obtain via the website. Every state will have legislation standardising the steps that must be taken to legally transfer the title so you may sell the car.

Obtain a letter from the probate court or executor of the estate granting you authority to transfer the title of the deceased vehicle. In some states the executor of the estate or personal representative has the authority to sign over the title of a car that is part of an estate.

Gather all the necessary documentation the DMV requires and make a copy of each item for your records. These may include the release/permission letter, odometer reading, original title to the vehicle and smog check. Fill out the official forms you received from DMV for transferring a vehicle of a deceased person to a beneficiary, and make a copy of this also.

Submit the required paperwork with the proper fee payment to the DMV. Within a few days to several weeks, depending on the DMV workload, you will receive a new title which transferred the deceased car to you.

Advertise and market the deceased's car--now your car--using the same methods for any other used car for sale.

Things You'll Need

  • Certified death certificate copy
  • Vehicle's title
  • DMV transfer forms
  • DMV required information, i.e. smog certificate, odometer reading, etc.
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