How to Transfer the Car Title of a Deceased Person

by Brooke Pierce

When the owner of a car dies, you can transfer the title of ownership to yourself. The transfer procedure varies with the terms of the title you had set with the decedent. Your name could have been on the car’s title, or you may have had joint ownership with the decedent. There may be a probate of the estate of the deceased person, which affects the process of transferring the title of a car. In case of a probate, the property of the decedent is shared following the will.

Tip

  • Car and probate laws differ depending on your state. The title transfer can prove to be complicated at times. It is critical to contact your region probate court during the procedure of transferring a car title from the deceased. Contact your attorney also to be well informed. Having a person who comprehends the legal procedures is an added advantage.

Items you will need

  • Copy of death certificate of the deceased

  • Title of the car  

  • Letters of administration 

  • Hold-harm agreement  

  • Registration fees 

  • Transfer taxes  

Tip

  • If there is a probate, and the deceased has mentioned you in his will to acquire ownership of the car, it will be transferred to you automatically. For non-probate, follow these steps.

Determine ownership.

As the new owner, visit your state’s motor vehicle department for this.

Fill out a transfer form.

Submit your joint title, a death certificate copy and your ID.

Receive the title.

Your state motor vehicles agency will issue you with a new title after verification, assuming there are no problems.

Register the title.

Do this if the title transfer from the decedent to you is not automatic. You will need to provide additional supporting documents. Provide letters of administration listing the individual handling the decedent's property. Furnish a hold-harmless agreement.

Tip

  • Providing a hold-harmless agreement is crucial, as it indicates that you as the new owner will be responsible in circumstances where another person claims ownership.

Pay the fees.

These include transfer taxes and registration fees necessitated for the transfer of title.

Tip

  • Check if a lien exists on the old title of the car. This means that a leasing organization, service provider or a bank has a claim on the decedent's car. The lien should be taken care of before you transfer ownership.

Items you will need

About the Author

Based in Amsterdam, Brooke Pierce has been writing automotive-related articles since 2012. She holds a Bachelor of Science in automotive engineering technology from Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI.