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How to retitle a vehicle after a person’s death

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | Estate Administration & Probate |

In Washington, there are three choices for transferring the title of a vehicle after someone passes. Which option works best for you will depend on many circumstances.

Co-names on title

If there is more than one name on the title, others named on the title can usually have the name of the deceased removed by taking a copy of the person’s death certificate to the Washington State Department of Licensing. In some cases, the other person must show identification.

Vehicle transferred to the estate

The estate’s executor can request that the car’s registration be changed to the estate’s name as part of estate administration and probate. Usually, the executor will need proof from a judge that they are approved to act in that role, along with the death certificate. Then, the state official will retitle the vehicle in the estate’s name. The executor can then sell the vehicle.

Title the car in the inheritor’s name

The state can also retitle the vehicle into the name of the person inheriting it. To accomplish this, the executor and the inheritor must go to the Washington Department of Licensing. Then, the executor proves a judge approved their role and asks the clerk to retitle it into the inheritor’s name. In addition to proof that the executor has authority and showing proof of identity, the clerk may also need a copy of the death certificate.

Vehicles can be retitled to reflect the new owner after someone passes. Usually, if the person inheriting the vehicle’s name is not already on the deed, the case must be filed in probate court before the car can be retitled.