How to Transfer the Car Title of a Deceased Person

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Once a vehicle owner has passed away, the process for transferring the car title of the deceased person varies depending on whether the vehicle title was in the individual's name as a decedent or whether it was in a joint ownership. In the event that the title was only in the decedent's name, the process will vary depending on whether or not the deceased individual's estate is being probated.

The best thing you can do for yourself when going through the process of legally transferring the car title of a deceased person would be to contact your local probate court for additional information. It would also be in your best interest to contact your attorney to provide you with more detailed information. Depending on the situation and the circumstances getting the title transferred can be a complicated process. In the event that it becomes complicated, it helps to have someone who understands the legal process working in your favor.

What Does Probate Mean?
Probate is a legal process that involves administering the estate of the individual who has passed away. During this process, the deceased individual's property will be distributed based on the deceased individual's will.

Transfer of a Vehicle without a Probate

Unfortunately, the process of transferring the title of a vehicle without a probate varies pretty greatly depending on what state you live in. Most states require the deceased individual's property not to exceed a certain amount and it to be a certain amount of time since the person has passed away before the transfer of the title can be initiated.

Required Documents and Fees

While the documents needed does vary slightly from one state to the next you need to have all of the following in order to transfer the title in most states: certificate of the title, affidavit to transfer without probate, odometer disclosure statement, death certificate, and transfer fee.

In the event that it is your intention to sell the vehicle after the title has been transferred, they may be additional transfer fees depending on where you live. There may additional registration fees depending on what the status of the vehicle is. All of these fees will be determined and relayed to you after you submit your application to your local DMV. Furthermore, in the event that the vehicle was not registered by the deceased, the new owner will be held responsible for paying any registration fees or penalties.

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