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Fairfax, VA Probate Blog

Friday, January 24, 2014

How to Transfer Vehicle Titles/ Automobile Titles

Non-Probate Transfers

When a decedent's passes the title to their vehicles may pass a few ways. If the decedent had a beneficiary on the title, then the title may pass to the beneficiary. If the title had a joint owner, then the title may pass by operation of law to that joint owner. 

What happens if there is no beneficiary or joint owner? Probate

In that scenario, the vehicle is a probate asset (assuming the vehicle was titled in the name of the decedent at death). Consequently, the vehicle will pass in accordance with the probate rules. One of two results may likely occur.

#1 If the decedent has or is expected to have a personal representative qualified on the estate, than said personal representative will have to visit the DMV to transfer the vehicle into the name of the estate. The personal representative must provide the DMV with letters of qualification and any other documents they need (call in advance).

#2 If the decedent isn't expected to have any person qualify as a personal representative, then the beneficiary(s) can go to the DMV and sign the necessary documentation to have the title pass to the beneficiary(s).

 

The DMV provides the following information on their website: 

The requirements for transferring ownership, or title, for a vehicle when the currently registered owner is deceased depends on the situation. Below are several common situations, along with the associated guidelines, to guide you in the transfer and to help make the process less stressful.

Joint Owner with the Right of Survivorship

You are considered a joint owner with the right of survivorship if:

  • Your name is listed on the title as one of the vehicle owners and "or" appears between the names listed, or
  • The words "or survivor" appear after the names.

You may re-title the deceased's vehicle in your name by submitting to DMV:

  1. Certified or notarized death certificate
  2. Vehicle title
  • If your existing title is lost or stolen, you must submit an "Application For Supplemental Lien, Replacement Title, Transfer of Lien and Substitute Title" (VSA 66) and receive a substitute title in your name. You will not be required to apply for a replacement title first in this situation.
  • If your existing title is mutilated or illegible, you must complete a VSA 66 in addition to surrendering the title.
  1. Payment of appropriate fees

DMV will issue a new title and registration in your name.

 

Not a Joint Owner or a Joint Owner Without the Right of Survivorship

You are not a joint owner if:

  • Your name does not appear on the title.

You are a joint owner without the right of survivorship if your name is listed on the title as one of the vehicle owners and:

  • The word "and" appears between the names listed, or
  • The words "or survivor" do not appear after the names.

 

Executor or Administrator Will Not be Appointed**

If the vehicle is transferred to you as the spouse or heir, or under the will, you will not be required to pay sales and use tax.

If you inherit the vehicle, bring each of the following to DMV:

  1. Certified or notarized death certificate
  2. The vehicle title
  1. One of the following:
  • A copy of the will and a completed "Authority to Transfer Virginia Title Certification" (VSA 24), OR
  • An affidavit indicating that the deceased's estate falls under the small estate laws (currently the value of the estate must be less than $50,0000, OR
  • A completed "Authority to Transfer Virginia Title Certification" (VSA-24)
  1. Proof of Address
  1. Payment of appropriate fees

 

Executor or Administrator of the Estate Has Been Appointed**

The executor or administrator must provide:

  1. Certified or notarized death certificate
  2. Vehicle title
  3. Court-issued document or will appointing the executor or administrator
  1. Proof of Address
  1. Payment of appropriate fees

If a bank holds the title to the deceased's vehicle, the co-owner of the vehicle is obligated to pay the balance of the loan. If a bank holds the title of the vehicle and there is no co-owner, the executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for satisfying any liens. If you are the co-owner of the deceased's vehicle, without the right of survivorship, and cannot find the title, you may obtain a replacement title from DMV for the appropriate fee.

**Executors and administrators are usually named in a will. However, if no will exists, the court, under certain circumstances, will appoint an executor or administrator.

  

Authorizing Virginia Code Sec. 46.2-634 Transfer of title when no qualification on estate

If the holder of a certificate of title is dead and there has been no qualification on his estate, a transfer may be made by a legatee or distributee if there is presented to the Department a statement made by a legatee or distributee to the effect that there has not been and there is not expected to be a qualification on the estate and that the decedent's debts have been paid or that the proceeds from the sale of the motor vehicle will be applied against his debts. The statement shall contain the name, residence at the time of death, date of death, and the names of any other persons having an interest in the motor vehicle which is sought to be transferred and, if these persons are of legal age, they shall signify in writing their consent to the transfer of the title.




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