Estate Administration: Transferring the Title of a Decedents Vehicle in Maryland

Posted over 1 year ago. Applies to Maryland, 0 helpful votes

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The Register of Wills for Anne Arundel County and the Mortor Vehicle Administration include very helpful information for individuals attempting to re-title a vechile owned by a decedent. The following is a link to the MVA website page the provides instructions to transfer title. http://www.mva.maryland.gov/Vehicle-Services/REG/inherit.htm.

In case the link doesn't work, the following is from the MVA website as of April 2011:

Transferring Ownership

If the vehicle is jointly owned, on the existing Maryland Certificate of Title, and you are the surviving owner, this is what you need to do:

  • If you want to keep the vehicle, you must apply for a new title before the present registration tags expire. To apply for a new title and registration, please complete the "assignment of ownership" and "application for title and registration" section on the back of your "Certificate of Title." If the transfer of ownership is between spouses or children the registration tags on the vehicle may be transferred to the surviving spouse's or child's name. In all other cases, new registration tags must be purchased. Please make certain you have a certified copy of the death certificate, the deceased's driver's license and the vehicle's registration card to complete your request.
  • If there is an existing loan, please complete all required lien information on the back of the title. If there are no liens on the vehicle, then just simply write "none" in the space provided for lien information. If the lien on the vehicle is released, attach a "Notice of Security Interest Filing" or a letter written by the lienholder, on their letterhead, releasing the lien. If there is a lien on the vehicle (the vehicle is being financed), you must contact the lienholder for a letter of authorization approving the transfer of ownership. The letter must be attached to your transfer of ownership request. No security interest filing fee is required.
  • If you are retaining ownership of the vehicle, a Maryland vehicle safety inspection is not needed.

If the vehicle is jointly owned, on the existing Maryland Certificate of Title, and you are the surviving owner and you wish to sell or give the vehicle to another person, this is what you need to do:

  • If you intend to transfer the ownership of the vehicle to another person, either by sale or as a gift, please complete the "assignment of ownership" section on the back of the "Certificate of Title." To the new owner you will need to give the title, a certified copy of the death certificate, and if there is a lien, a lien release that you must obtain from the lienholder. The person receiving ownership of the vehicle will then take these documents to the MVA and register the vehicle in the new owner's name.
  • Please note, to sell or give the ownership of a used vehicle to another person, a Maryland safety inspection must be completed. The inspection certificate must accompany the transfer request.

If the vehicle is jointly owned, on the existing Maryland Certificate of Title, and you are the surviving owner and you wish to give the vehicle to a family member, this is what you need to do:

  • If you intend to give the vehicle to an immediate family member in Maryland you will need to complete the Assignment of Ownership section, the family member needs the title, a certified copy of the death certificate, and if there is a lien, a lien release that you must obtain from the lien holder, and a completed Gift Certification form (VR-103). If the last names of the family members are different, a proof of the relationship between the giver and the receiver of the vehicle is required. The family member can then take the documents to the MVA and register the vehicle in the family member's name.
  • Please note, if the transfer of ownership of the vehicle is between a parent and child, spouse, or a surviving joint owner, a Maryland safety inspection is not required.

If the vehicle is owned by the deceased person and its ownership is to be transferred to a legal heir, legatee, distributee or sold, you will need to contact the Register of Wills in the jurisdiction in which the deceased was a resident to confirm that you have all of the necessary documents and obtain the legal heir certification or letters of administration.

When presenting the MVA with letters of testamentary or administration to complete the transfer of ownership for a vehicle, the MVA can accept only the original. The original letters, which are issued by the Register of Wills, have a raised seal.

If you are a legal heir, legatee or distributee this is what you need to do:

  • A legal heir is a person, usually a descendant of the deceased individual, who inherits property and/or wealth owned by the deceased.
  • A legatee refers to a person named within the will of a deceased, not necessarily a relative.
  • A distributee describes a person entitled to share in the distribution of the estate of the deceased.
  • If the ownership is being transferred to a legal heir, legatee or distributee, the "assignment of ownership" section on the back of the "Maryland Certificate of Title" must be completed.
  • The original letters of administration, naming the administrator, must be included with the title to transfer the ownership. Please be sure to give the administrator's full name and address.

If you are the estate executor or administrator this is what you need to do:

  • If the vehicle is being sold by the executor or the administrator, the "assignment of ownership" section on the back of the "Certificate of Title" must be filled out.
  • The buyer's full name and address must be filled in with the amount the buyer is paying for the vehicle. The letters of testamentary or administration must be presented with the original title.
  • If there is a lien shown on the title for the vehicle, a letter from the lien holder giving authorization for the vehicle to be sold must be given, along with the original title, to the buyer of the vehicle. If the vehicle has been paid off and no money is owed, a "Notice of Security Interest Filing" or a letter on the lienholder's original letterhead must be given to the buyer of the vehicle along with the original title. In both cases, the required lien information on the back of the title must be filled in. If the vehicle is not subject to a lien, write "none" in the lien section.
  • New tags must be purchased for the vehicle regardless of how the transfer of ownership is made.
  • Vehicles being sold in this manner must have a complete Maryland safety inspection. The inspection certificate must be presented with the request for the transfer of ownership if registration plates are requested.

Excise Tax

Excise tax is six percent (6%) of the fair market value or purchase price of a vehicle as certified on a notarized bill of sale. If a deceased person's Maryland titled vehicle is transferred to a surviving spouse, legal heir, legatee, or distributee they are exempt from paying an excise tax.

Additional Resources

The Maryland Motor Vehcile Administation is a good additional resource about this topic. Here is the website. http://www.mva.maryland.gov/Vehicle-Services/REG/inherit.htm

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