And Who Gets the Car?

And Who Gets the Car?

When planning a will we think of who gets the house, the land, our favorite spoon collection, etc., but what about the car?

If you are the sole owner of your car it’s important to think about who your vehicle goes to after your passing; whether a spouse, a child, or another beneficiary.

In this post we’ll go over the steps of what you as testator need to do in order to bequeath your vehicle, as well as what your survivors need to do in order to transfer the title.

Designating a Beneficiary

Your vehicle is a part of your estate.

When you have assets that are not joint-owned or assigned a beneficiary, your estate can fall into probate. Probate is the legal process that takes place when the court system decides how to administer the decedent’s estate. This usually occurs when there is not a beneficiary or surviving spouse included in the will.

The best way to avoid your car falling into probate is to list a surviving spouse or other beneficiary as the recipient of your vehicle.

This holds true for any aspect of your estate. Naming a beneficiary to receive the vehicle once you pass away helps the process along and keeps matters less complicated.


Transferring the Title

If your estate avoids probate, the process of transferring the title of your vehicle after death is fairly straightforward. In most cases, the process of transferring title with the Department of Motor Vehicles is straightforward.

What to Bring:

In order to transfer the title of a car for an estate that has avoided probate, you’ll only need to bring the death certificate and title to the Title Office.

If Your Estate Falls into Probate

If your estate does fall into probate, the process of transferring the title of your vehicle is slightly more complicated.

In cases of probated estates, vehicle titles cannot be transferred until the process is complete. Depending on how complicated the probate process is, it may take some time for this to happen. The administrator or executor of your estate can contact the Probate Court to get an idea of what needs to be done to complete the probate process.

What You’ll Need

Once your estate finishes probate, this is what your loved ones will need to take to the Title Office in order to transfer the title of your vehicle:

  • Certificate of title
  • Odometer disclosure statement
  • Certificate of Death
  • Transfer of Vehicle Order from Probate Court
  • Money to pay transfer fee (~$12)

WAC 308-56A-335 Pr provides further information on transfering a vehicle's title after death. 

If you're ready to create your easy, online will, get started here


Published 03/06/2022.