Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

Deceased Owner Vehicle Title Transfer Guide

When a loved one dies, questions can arise about what to do with their vehicle(s). Fortunately, most states have a process for transferring ownership of the vehicle to another party or for canceling the title altogether. While all states are different, there are general similarities that can help you get started on your deceased owner title transfer.

Transferring a title with survivorship or will

Before transferring a vehicle title from the deceased owner, you should check if the title has survivorship. If the title has survivorship, then the title is automatically transferred into the survivor’s name. If there is no survivorship, will the estate be probated? Meaning, has the deceased owner left a will that will go through the court system for the vehicle? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, you may be able to transfer ownership more quickly with official documents or a will from an attorney or bank.

If there is no will or probate needed, then you will have to seek permission from all other legal heirs before transferring ownership of any property into your name.

Transferring a title without survivorship or will

If the vehicle in question does not have a survivorship clause and the estate is not being probated, most states have a process by which one may obtain a title from a deceased owner. To apply for a new title from a deceased owner, you’ll typically need the following items:

    1. Your state’s motor vehicle title application
    2. Notarized inheritance affidavit
    3. Odometer disclosure
    4. Bill of sale
    5. Lien release
    6. Death certificate

State title application

Each state has a different application for title transfers. They can be found online or at your local Department of Motor Vehicles office. Before you begin, check with your state’s department to make sure you have all the right paperwork because there may be additional requirements in your state.

Notarized inheritance affidavit

The inheritance affidavit is a document needed when transferring ownership of a vehicle from a deceased owner. This document outlines the ownership of the vehicle as assigned by all of the surviving heirs of the property/vehicle. In order to transfer ownership, all heirs must sign this document and it must be notarized.

Odometer disclosure

The odometer disclosure provides a true and accurate statement of mileage at the time of sale. Some states allow for this to be disclosed on the bill of sale or the title application, although some states have a completely separate Odometer Disclosure process.

Notarized bill of sale

The bill of sale is written proof that you purchased the vehicle from the heir. Think of your bill of sale as a receipt of purchase. In many states, the bill of sale must be notarized for deceased owner title transfers. If it’s not required in your state, it may be beneficial to have the document notarized anyway to add extra legitimacy to your document.

Lien release

If there is a lien on the vehicle, then the title is unable to be transferred until the lien is released from the lender. In some instances, for example, if the lien is more than 10 years old, the lender can send you a letter of non-interest in lieu of a lien release. This letter of non-interest states that the lender is no longer interested in pursuing the lien.

Death certificate

Not all states require the death certificate to be included in the application for title. However, be sure to check your state’s requirements prior to submitting your application.

Upon submission of the state title application for deceased owner transfer, make sure to include the appropriate title fees designated by your state.

The DMV title transfer process can be confusing and tedious, especially when you’re also dealing with the loss of a loved one. Remember as you are caring for your deceased loved one’s property you also remember to care for yourself. If there is an estate or survivorship, consider consulting or hiring a lawyer to assist you in this process. We always recommend getting good legal advice when transferring a title from a deceased owner, the DMV cannot provide legal advice.

Want a professional to do it for you?

For as little as $159 for most processes, we will save you the headache and prepare all of the car title paperwork needed to get you a new title. Simply choose the title recovery method you’d like to use and we’ll get started!

Select your title recovery method:

Order Vermont Title LoopholeOrder Deceased Owner Title TransferOrder Bonded Title ProcessOrder Abandoned Vehicle ProcessOrder Prior Owner ContactOrder Lien Release Request LetterPGlmcmFtZSBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vYXBwLmFjdWl0eXNjaGVkdWxpbmcuY29tL3NjaGVkdWxlLnBocD9vd25lcj0xOTQ4ODEyNiZhcHBvaW50bWVudFR5cGU9MjMwNjY0MTAiIHRpdGxlPSJTY2hlZHVsZSBBcHBvaW50bWVudCIgd2lkdGg9IjEwMCUiIGhlaWdodD0iODAwIiBmcmFtZUJvcmRlcj0iMCI+PC9pZnJhbWU+PHNjcmlwdCBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vZW1iZWQuYWN1aXR5c2NoZWR1bGluZy5jb20vanMvZW1iZWQuanMiIHR5cGU9InRleHQvamF2YXNjcmlwdCI+PC9zY3JpcHQ+

Have Title Questions? Talk to a Car Title Expert.

Book a consultation with a Car Title Expert from to get personalized guidance on your title recovery journey.

Don’t let uncertainty hold you back. If it’s your car, you deserve a title.

Share this article!

Check Your VIN Instantly:

Powered by