How to transfer car title to surviving spouse

Vehicles No Longer in DMV RecordsNon-Transferable Registration ConversionCoping with the loss of a loved one can be one of the hardest challenges many will face. DMV wants to make

How to transfer car title to surviving spouse
  • Vehicles No Longer in DMV Records
  • Non-Transferable Registration Conversion

Coping with the loss of a loved one can be one of the hardest challenges many will face. DMV wants to make it as easy as possible to navigate practical matters during this difficult time; this guide will walk you through all the DMV-related tasks that you might need to address upon the death of a family member or friend (decedent).

You might need the following documents:

  • An original or certified copy of the decedents death certificate.
  • Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration.
  • The decedents California Driver License and/or Identification Card (DL/ID).
  • The decedents Disabled Person (DP) parking placard.
  • Any special license plates.
  • The decedents California Certificate of Title or Application for Replacement or Transfer ofTitle (REG 227) form.
  • Affidavit for Transfer without Probate  California Titled Vehicle or Vessels Only (REG 5).
  • Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment (REG 262) (PDF) form. The REG 262 form is not available online because it is printed on security paper, which makes it compliant with federal odometer disclosure regulations.
  • Planned Non-Operation Certification (REG 102) form.
  • Statement of Facts (REG 256) form.

You will need to do the following:

  • Submit the decedents California DL/ID card to DMV (even if it is expired).
  • Include an original or certified copy of the decedents death certificate.
  • Submit a written statement listing the:
  • Decedents full name.
  • Decedents DL/ID card number.
  • The name of the person reporting the death, and their relationship to the decedent.
  • The signature and daytime phone number of the person reporting the death.

Send these items by mail to:

DMV-Issuance Unit
PO Box 942890, MS G204
Sacramento, CA 94290-0001

If you also need to return the decedents Disabled Person (DP) Parking Placard:

  • Mark the placard with an X on both sides so DMV knows it is no longer valid. Please ensure the placard number is still legible.
  • Submit the decedents DP parking placard within 60 days of the owners death.
  • Fill out the Statement of Facts (REG 256) form (Section G) stating the:
  • Decedents name.
  • Placard number.
  • Decedents date of death.
  • Name of the person reporting the death, and their relationship to the decedent.
  • The signature and daytime phone number of the person reporting the death.
  • Submit the placard with the form to your local DMV office or by mail.

Send these items by mail to:

DMV
PO Box 942869, MS C271
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

Other Steps to Consider

Once you have submitted the decedents California DL/ID card and returned any Disabled Person(DP) placards, you must also consider the following:Vehicle/Vessel Registration plus minus

If the decedent owns a vehicle or boat/vessel, please note that you must maintain the vehicle/vessels registration while managing matters of the decedents estate. This includes:

  • Ensuring registration fees are paid.
  • If the vehicle will not be used, place the vehicle on planned non-operation (PNO) status by filling out a Planned Non-Operation Certification (REG 102) form before the registration expiration date. Please note that if PNO fees are paid after registration expires, penalties will be applied.
  • Cancel liability coverage with the decedents insurance company and then submit an Affidavit of Non-Use (REG 5090) form to DMV. You can file online or fill out a paper copy and mail the form to the DMV (address is noted on the form itself).Transferring Ownership of a Vehicle or Vessel plus minus

If ownership of the decedents vehicle will be transferred to another person, you must submit the following information to DMV:

  • The vehicle/vessels California Certificate of Title.
  • If you have lost the title information, you can submit an Application for Replacement or Transfer ofTitle (REG 227) form signed by the decedents heir or executor.
  • Example: Signed for John Jones by Mary S. Jones, sole heir, successor, administrator, executor, conservator, guardian, or trustee.
  • A title transfer for the decedents vehicle/vessel.
  • An Affidavit for Transfer Without Probate California Titled Vehicle or Vessels Only (REG 5) form, completed by the decedents heir.
  • This includes a court order, Letters Testamentary, Letters of Administration, Letters of Administration with Will Annexed, or Letters of Special Administration.
  • A Statement of Facts (REG 256) form (Section G).
  • If the decedents vehicle is less than 10 years old, you must submit an odometer disclosure statement with the California Certificate of the Title or Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262). The REG 262 form is not available online because it is printed on security paper, which makes it compliant with federal odometer disclosure regulations.
  • Any fees for the transfer of ownership, including registration renewal and use tax (if applicable).

A power of attorney (POA) cannot sign a REG 5 form.Transfer Without Probate plus minus

In certain situations, the decedents heir may transfer the title of a vehicle/vessel without going through the probate process. Here are the eligibility requirements:

  • A completed Affidavit for Transfer Without Probate California Titled Vehicle or Vessels Only (REG 5) form filled out by one of the following:
  • Person(s) who succeeded to the property of the decedent.
  • Conservator or guardian of the property of the person(s) who succeeded to the property of the decedent.
  • Beneficiary under the decedents last will and testament.
  • Trustee(s), under a trust agreement by the deceased, in which the primary beneficiaries are the next of kin.

If the vehicle was owned jointly by two or more decedents, this form should list the most recent decedents information.

  • The value of the decedents property in California does not exceed $166,250 (if the decedent died on or after 1/1/20).
  • If the decedent died before January 1, 2020, the property value must not exceed $150,000.

This does not include vehicles, vessels, commercial coaches, or manufactured, mobile, or floating homes. To calculate the decedents property value, see California Probate Code §13050.

  • The decedents vehicle/vessel is titled in California.

Vehicles/vessels titled in another state must be transferred in that state (requirements may differ from California).

  • It has been 40 or more days since the registered or legal owners date of death.
  • An original or certified copy of each owners death certificate.
  • If the vehicle is owned jointly by two or more persons and one is deceased, a REG 5 cannot be used to circumvent the surviving owners interest. However, the surviving owner (if an heir) may complete a REG 5 to release the decedents interest. The title must be signed twice, once by the surviving owner and once on behalf of the decedent.Trust Transfers plus minus

Establishment of a trust commits the property or assets of an individual(s) to a trustee for use or safekeeping.

  • A releasing signature for a trust cannot be made by POA, unless the POA document is restricted to a specific transaction.
  • If more than one trustee is shown without or, or a slash (/) between the names, each trustee must sign the title.
  • If the trustee signing is not shown on the title, a REG 256 (Section G) is required attesting to their appointment as successor trustee by the trustor or retiring trustee.
  • If a trustee releases interest of a vehicle/vessel not registered to a trust, ownership is determined by the decedents will as contained in the trust document. The trust document and REG 262 copies may be required.
  • If no trustee name is shown on the title, a REG 256 (Section G) is required attesting to their appointment as trustee or successor trustee by the trustor.Transfer With Court Documents plus minus

The Certificate of Title must be signed for the decedent and countersigned by the executor or administrator.Smog Certification plus minus

Title transfers between parents and their children, spouses, grandparents and grandchildren, domestic partners, and siblings are exempt from the transfer smog certification requirements if confirmed withthe following form:

  • Statement of Facts (REG 256) form with (Section G) listing the decedents information, including date and death.Vehicle Value plus minus

When a vehicle changes ownership, the vehicles value is usually re-assessed based on the purchase price (if purchased) or on the current market value (if a gift) to determine the appropriate vehicle license fee (VLF).

Specific family transfers are excluded from vehicle value reclassification.Special License Plates plus minus

If the decedent was issued any special license plates, they must also be surrendered to DMV.

Environmental License Plates must be surrendered to DMV unless the applicant is the heir named on the court documents or REG 5.

  • If ownership is released by an administrator or executor, the relationship of the transferee to the decedent must be declared on a Statement of Facts form (REG 256).

DP License Plates must be surrendered to DMV upon expiration of the registration, or within 60 days of the owners death, whichever occurs first.

Disabled Veteran (DV)License Plates must be surrendered to DMV by December 31 of the current year, or within 60 days of the owners death, whichever occurs first.

Former Prisoner of War, Legion of Valor, Pearl Harbor Survivor, and Purple Heart License Plates
The surviving spouse of the decedent may retain these license plates and their privileges, which may include exemption from vehicle registration, license plate reassignment, addition, deletion, and replacement fees.

  • The surviving spouse must complete a Statement of Facts (REG 256) stating that they arethe owners spouse and wishes to retain the license plates.

Former Prisoner of War and Purple Heart License Plates Only
Upon the death of the owner and surviving spouse (if any), another family member (parent, stepparent, children, stepchildren, grandparent, step grandparent, sibling, or stepsibling) may retain one license plate as a family heirloom. The remaining license plate must be returned to DMV upon expiration of the vehicle registration, or within 60 days of the decedents death, whichever occurs first.

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Forms

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Vehicle Title Transfers

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