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In the unfortunate event of a loved one’s passing, there are a multitude of things that you have to handle during that trying time.

Of those things, figuring out how to sell the vehicle of the dearly departed can be quite the hassle.

Let’s break down selling a car after the owner dies in order to lighten your burden a bit.

“Respect My Authority”

First and foremost, in order to initiate the process of selling the property of the deceased, you’ll need to be the executor of the estate.

Being the executor grants you the authority to establish selling prices, advertisements, collect money, and sign over the title for the car.

There is some variance between states on how exchanges with the buyer occur; contacting your state’s DMV can help you iron out the details for your specific region.

Upon becoming the executor of an estate, the probate court will issue Letters of Testamentary, granting you documented authority over the estate.

Obtain several certified copies of these letters, as well as certified copies of the death certificate so that, in the event you are ever questioned over your authority, you have proof of it. In some states, you will need to provide the original death certificate.

“Titles Definitely Matter”

One interesting aspect of selling a car of a deceased loved one, is that you don’t have to change the vehicle’s title.

Once you find a buyer who agrees to the price for the vehicle, all you need to do is sign your name on the back of the title, followed by “executor for the estate of…” and complete with the name of your dearly departed.

Then relinquish the title and the vehicle to the new owner.

NOTE: When selling the vehicle through a business like CarBrain, payment would be issued to the titled owner, which means the deceased individual. If you are the executor of the estate, you can access the funds once they are deposited in the estate.

california DMV building

Transferring The Title In Your Name

If you have the time and would prefer to cash the check directly in your name when selling the car, you can always transfer the title into your name. To do that, you’ll need to bring the following documents to your local DMV:

  1. The vehicle’s title
  2. The death certificate for your relatives
  3. Paperwork establishing you as the executor of the estate

You can find the exact documentation required by looking up the title information for your state.

“Lien On Me”

In the event that the car of the deceased has a lien on it, then it has to be paid off and a clear title has to be obtained before the vehicle can be sold.

Reach out to the bank or whatever lender that owns the loan and obtain the amount required to complete the car’s payment.

Gather the funds and make the payment, while also presenting a certificate of death and the letters testamentary.

Once the lienholder issues a clear title made out to the estate, you can move forward with the sale of the car.

Furthermore, you’ll want to cancel any insurance still on the vehicle. When you reach out to the insurance company, you’ll likely be asked for a copy of the death certificate and letter of testamentary.

woman at desk against wall on laptop

CarBrain Takes Care Of Unwanted Cars

In the event of your loved one’s passing, you may feel the need to get rid of their vehicle. CarBrain is here to make that process as quick and hassle-free for you as possible.

Our Associate Buyers will provide you with a quote for the vehicle within 90 seconds of contacting us.

We also have the means to walk you through the title transfer process, completely free of charge.

When it’s time to haul away the car, one of our service providers within your area will come and remove the vehicle (again, free of charge).

They’ll hand you a check in the titled owner’s name for the quoted amount, so you don’t have to worry about negotiating at all.


Sell Your Relative's Car Without The Hassle!

Can You Sell Someone’s Car After They Die?

You can, but you will need both their death certificate as well as legal proof that you can operate as the executor of their estate.

How Do I Transfer A Car Title After The Death Of The Owner?

Transferring the title after the death of the owner is relatively the same as when you do it for yourself. The only differences are you’re going to be required to provide a copy of the death certificate and you must be an executor for the estate of the dearly departed.