When a Motor Vehicle Owner Has Died, What Happens to the Vehicle?
Updated: Mar 4, 2022
This is the first post in a two-part series. In this post, we will discuss how to transfer a motor vehicle, after the vehicle owner has died. In next week’s post, we will discuss how to transfer a home out of a deceased person’s name, after the homeowner has died.
When a vehicle owner has died, the first question to ask is: Did the vehicle owner have a will?
If the vehicle owner died intestate (that is, without a will):
If a person dies intestate, and the person owned a vehicle, the person’s spouse automatically becomes the owner of the vehicle. If the decedent owned more than one vehicle, the surviving spouse may choose one of the vehicles. To transfer ownership of the remaining vehicles, a relative must file a “No Administrator Affidavit” with the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Attach the decedent’s death certificate to the no administrator affidavit.
If the decedent was unmarried at the time of his death, then a relative must file a no administrator affidavit (with death certificate attached) with the Oklahoma Tax Commission, in order to transfer ownership of any vehicles. Click here for a printable copy of a no administrator affidavit.
If the vehicle owner had a will, and the total value of the owner’s estate is at least $50,000:
If the vehicle owner had a will, and the total value of the estate is at least $50,000, then, you will need to go to probate court and get a judge to sign letters testamentary. These letters testamentary will name an estate administrator. When the estate administrator sends these letters testamentary to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the estate administrator may assign ownership of the vehicle.
If the vehicle owner had a will, and the total value of the owner’s estate is less than $50,000:
Here, the process is simpler: you don’t need to go to probate court. All you need to do is file a Small Estate Affidavit with the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Click here for a printable copy of a Small Estate Affidavit. Along with the Small Estate Affidavit, send:
1. A copy of the decedent’s death certificate;
2. A copy of the decedent’s will;
3. The certificate of title of the vehicle, or evidence from the Tax Commission that a title record exists.
If the vehicle’s owner filed a transfer-on-death notice with the Oklahoma Tax Commission
If there are no liens or encumbrances on the vehicle, the owner may file a transfer-on-death notice with the Oklahoma Tax Commission. If the owner files a transfer-on-death notice, the owner may, in the notice, name the person to whom he wishes to transfer the vehicle, when he dies. Then, when the owner dies, the named transferee may file an affidavit, along with a death certificate, with the Oklahoma Tax Commission. The transferee will then take ownership of the vehicle.
Click here for a printable copy of a Transfer-on-Death Notice.
Here is a flowchart that tells what to do when a vehicle owner has died: