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-DC DMV will no longer prevent DC residents from applying for a new or renewed driver license because of failing to meet the requirements of the Clean Hands Law.

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Vehicle Acquired through Death of Owner

A surviving joint owner or owners of a vehicle may apply for a new certificate of title for that vehicle 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 DC DMV with the following documents:

  • Assignment of title executed by the deceased's personal representative or estate executor
  • One of the following documents:
  • An authenticated copy of the letters testamentary or administration issued to the representative or executer by an appropriate court (the probate must still be open);
  • An authenticated copy of the small estate order that includes the vehicle as an asset of the estate; 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.
  • An original death certificate of the deceased

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

If you believe you are eligible for an excise tax gift exemption, our chart of excise tax exemptions [PDF] lists additional documents you must 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.

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