Mom has passed away, probate has been opened, and you were issued Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary, formally and legally putting you in charge of the estate. Now, on to addressing the Buick in the driveway. You have the keys and you want to sell it or transfer it to the named beneficiary, but you’ll need to sign the title to do so. Mom hung on to your grade school art projects and every canceled check she ever wrote, but you can’t find the title to the Buick anywhere!
We recently obtained a duplicate title for the vehicle owned by a decedent’s estate on behalf of a client. We attempted to do so through the mail and made three trips to the DMV to complete the job. To prevent you from making the same mistakes, we’ve explained the process of getting a duplicate title as the Estate’s Personal Representative.
***Note: the following thoroughly describes what worked for us and could certainly change over time. The DMV reps are very helpful over the phone, so don’t hesitate to call them first to confirm you are following the correct process.
How to Get Duplicate Vehicle Title from the DMV for a Vehicle Owned by the Decedent of an Estate
- What you’ll need
· VIN number
· Vehicle year, make, and model
· License plate number
· Full legal name of the deceased vehicle owner (including any variations the decedent may have used).
· Decedent’s Driver’s License, ID Card#, or date of birth (we were okay only using the date of birth)
· A copy of the Letters of Administration/Testamentary. We got by using a copy, but having a certified copy in hand is always better.
· Death Certificate. This should not be necessary, and we got by without one, but if you can have it in hand, you may save yourself a fight.
- Complete form VP012
You can find that here. Fill in the top half with the information about the vehicle and the decedent. Under the ‘Legal Owner’ section, write in the name of the person who was issued the Letters, otherwise known as the PR (personal representative), and his or her address. Under ‘Certification,’ explain what happened to the missing title.
- Sign form VP012
You must sign VP012 sign in a specific manner. If you can wait to do this in front of the DMV representative, that is preferred because they can show you how to do so and can notarize it. Otherwise, you will need to wait to sign it in front of a notary.
The DMV requires the “By:” line to be signed in a specific format. If the personal representative’s name is John Smith and the decedent’s name is Mary Ann Jones, the By: line will be signed as follows:
John Smith for Mary Ann Jones
- OPTIONAL: One and the Same Affidavit (Form VP185)
When the DMV receives your application, they will conduct a title search. If the name of the deceased owner doesn’t match exactly, you will need to complete a “One and The Same Affidavit” which can be found here. For example, if the vehicle was titled in Mary Ann Jones’ hyphenated married name, Mary Ann Jones-Wilson, then this form will be necessary.
This form requires basic information, i.e., your name, physical and mailing address, deceased’s name as it appears on the title, deceased’s name as it appears on Letter of Administration or death certificate, your Nevada Drivers License, ID #, or birth date. This form must be notarized, and the notary will need your driver’s license. The agents at the DMV are notaries and can do this for you.
- Complete a Bill of Sale (VP 104)
The DMV will not issue a duplicate title in the decedent’s name, so you must transfer the missing title to the Estate. To do this, you will need to fill out Form VP 104, the Bill of Sale, found here:
· In our personal experience, the DMV rep told us that the consideration could be any amount.
· Under New Owner Information – Full Legal Name of 1st Buyer should be “The Estate of (Decedent’s Name)”, and the Physical and Mailing Address should be for the PR (because you are the representative of the Estate).
· Under Buyer’s Signature, you will sign your name. Nothing special like in Step 3 above.
· Fill in the VIN and the vehicle year, make, and model.
· Like in Step 3 above, the Seller’s Full Legal Name should appear as before (i.e., Mary Ann Jones by John Smith).
· Mailing address will again be your mailing address.
· You will sign the Signature of Seller line at the bottom of this form as John Smith for Mary Ann Jones, just as you did in Step 3 for Form VP012.
- Pay the Expedite Fee!
We paid the $20 Expedited Title Processing Fee and the $20 Expedited Title Shipping Fee. They took our email address which allowed them to email us tracking information for the FedEx’d title we received two days later. It was well worth the cost, given that our first attempt through the mail took six weeks and several phone calls only to discover we completed the forms incorrectly!
With the title in hand, the PR can transfer the title to a buyer or transferee. Note that the title will now be in the Estate’s name, so the Seller will need to sign the title in their capacity as the administrator/executor. Also, be sure to provide the buyer/transferee a copy of the Letters of Administration/Testamentary because the DMV rep will likely require that as proof you had the authority to sign the title as the seller when the buyer/transferee attempts to title and register the vehicle in their name.
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