The steps for transferring a car after death in Texas differ depending on who is inheriting the car and whether the deceased left a will. Generally, the executor or legal heir must file specific documents according to state rules before the heir can claim the car as her own.
Identifying the Legal Heirs
If the deceased left a will, then the will should identify the person who inherits the car. If there is no will, then the heirs are determined according to the state rules of intestacy. Generally, a surviving spouse can apply for a transfer of the car title unless the deceased has children with a different parent, in which case all surviving children must also make the application. If there is no surviving spouse, all surviving children must sign the transfer forms. If the deceased left neither a spouse nor children, then it's a good idea to hire an attorney to determine who are the heirs-at-law.
Inheritance Without a Will
If there's no will, the heir or heirs of the deceased can transfer the title by completing Form VTR-262, "Affidavit of Heirship for a Motor Vehicle," and Form 130-U, "Application for Texas Title and/or Registration" (see Resources). List the vehicle identification number, year, make, model and license plate number in the top portion of the forms. Provide the deceased owner's information and the names and addresses of the heirs. Some vehicles require an "Odometer Disclosure Statement"; follow the instructions listed on the second page of VTR-262. All heirs must sign VTR-262 in the presence of a notary public indicating that they are the only known heirs of the deceased.
Inheritance Under a Will
If the estate of the deceased has been probated, the executor or administrator will assign the title to the beneficiary named in the will using Form 130-U after the beneficiary has obtained the Letter of Testamentary or Letters of Administration. The executor is responsible for filing the transfer documents and paying any liens and fees required for the transfer. If the car is due for updated registration or inspection, then the executor handles this as well. Sometimes, the deceased leaves a will, but the court decides that no administration is necessary. In this situation, the heirs can transfer the car title in exactly the same way as if there had been no will.
Filing the Paperwork
Go to the county tax assessor's office where the deceased resided and submit the following documents:
- Form 130-U
- Form VTR-262 or a certified copy of the Letter of Testamentary or Letters of Administration, as appropriate
- The car title, signed on the back by the heir or the executor of estate, depending on which form you have to use
- VIN verification "green" sheet if the car is registered out of state
- Where there's a will but the estate is not probated, a certified copy of the court order confirming that no administration is necessary and an extract from the will indicating the names of the beneficiaries
- Proof that the car passed inspection by a Texas vehicle safety inspection station
- Proof of liability insurance in the names of the heirs
- Registration fee
It may take about 20 business days for processing your title application. Contact the county tax office if you have not received your title within 30 business days.
Jayne Thompson earned an LL.B. in Law and Business Administration from the University of Birmingham and an LL.M. in International Law from the University of East London. She practiced in various “Big Law” firms before launching a career as a commercial writer. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts.