After the owner of a vehicle passes away, the steps to transfer the car title of a deceased person vary depending on whether the vehicle title was in one person's (the individual's) name as a decedent or whether the car title had joint ownership. If the title was only in the decedent's name, the process will vary depending on whether the deceased person's estate is going through probate.
The best option you can take if you are going through the process of legally transferring a car title of a deceased person is to contact the local probate court and get additional information. It is also benefitical to contact your own attorney to provide you with detailed information. There are different circumstances to getting the title transferred and it can become a complicated process. In the event that the situation becomes complicated, it can be beneficial to have someone who understands the details of the legal processes to be working on your side.
What Does Probate Mean?
Probate is a legal process that involves the administration (and wrapping up) of the estate of someone (an individual or the deceased) who has passed away. The will of the deceased will cause the individual's property to be distributed based off his or her wishes during the probate process.
Transfer of a Vehicle without Probate
The steps to transfer a vehicle without a probate varies greatly depending on the state of the deceased. Most states set a limit on the value of the property and a minimum amount of time before items can be transferred (transfer of title).
Generally the documents required in each state are the same - however there may be some differences which is why it is beneficial to have an attorney with you. Most states require: a certificate of the title, odometer disclosure statement, affidavit to transfer without probate, a transfer fee, and an original or notarized copy of the death certificate.
There may be additional fees if your intention is to sell the vehicle after it is transferred. This will depend on where you live. There may be additional registration fees depending on the status of the vehicle. After you submit your application to your local DMV, they will advise you of the fees. If the vehicle was not registered by the deceased individual, there may be additional registration fees and/or penalties levied before you can register the vehicle.