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Vehicle Acquired Through Death of Owner

A surviving joint owner or owners may apply for a new certificate of title by presenting a certificate of title in the names of the surviving and deceased joint owners and an authenticated death certificate. When a co-owner of a vehicle title is deceased and the surviving owner is issued sole ownership of the vehicle, the title is exempt from excise tax.

If you are not a surviving joint owner of a vehicle, there are several documents, including official court documentation, needed to transfer title of a vehicle previously owned solely by the deceased.  All applicants wishing to transfer vehicles titled in the name of a deceased must provide DMV with the following documents:

  • Assignment of title executed by the deceased's personal representative or estate executer.
  • One of the following documents:
    • An authenticated copy of the letters testamentary or administration issued to the representative or executer by an appropriate court;
    • An authenticated copy of the small estate order; or
    • If the vehicle was in the name of a trust in which the decedent was the vehicle owner, the trust agreement must be provided, which should include the name of the trust, trustor, trustee and beneficiary, as well as the signature of the trustor and trustee.
  • A DC DMV application for a new Certificate of Title.
  • A copy of the deceased's death certificate.

NOTE:  Under certain circumstances, additional information and/or forms may be required.

If you believe you are eligible for an excise tax gift exemption, visit our chart of excise tax exemptions for additional documents to provide for the exemption.  For additional information related to court documentation, visit the Probate Division/Office of Register of Wills at the Superior Court of DC.