How Do I Change the Title on My Deceased Mother's Car?

Driving and holding the steering wheel.
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If your mother (or father) has died, and the car she owned is now yours, you will need to have the title transferred to your name. Most states have the same general guidelines, but procedures may vary. It is a good idea to contact your local bureau of motor vehicles to determine what they require for a title transfer.

What You'll Need

You will need to gather appropriate documentation when transferring the car title. Take the title and a certified copy of your mother’s death certificate. You will probably need to know the year, make, and model of the vehicle (although that should be on the title), and you might need to know the mileage. Check to ensure that the VIN is the same on the car as on the title. Generally, you will pay a filing fee or transfer of title fee. Fees vary by state, but your local title office should be able to quote prices. You may also look at your state’s website to see if the fees are listed.

Outstanding Loans

If there is an outstanding loan or lien on the vehicle at the time of your mother’s death, the loan will be passed on to you when you assume ownership. Should you sell the vehicle to a new owner, the loan will generally be passed on to him.


If the car is part of an estate, you may need to go through your local probate court to have the title transferred to your name. Ask for a form titled “release from administration with authority to transfer,” (or similar) complete the required information, and take the form, with the original title, to your local vehicle title bureau. The title bureau staff should be able to complete the transfer of the vehicle and provide you with a new title. Generally, a fee will be charged to you.


In some states (Ohio, for example), you may be able to obtain a Transfer on Death title. This title allows the sole owner (your mother, for example) to name a beneficiary to whom the vehicle will immediately pass following her death. Your mother would pay a minimal fee for an affidavit with her notarized signature. She would also pay a fee of around $16 to replace the current title. Upon your mother’s death, you would simply present a certified death certificate to the title bureau and receive a new title in your name. You may need to pay a transfer title fee.

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