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How to Transfer a Motor Vehicle After Death: Designating a Beneficiary

Automobiles

How to legally leave your vehicle to someone after you pass away.
Overview

Guide Overview

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has created a process to transfer a vehicle to a beneficiary upon the owner’s death.  The owner must first complete the Beneficiary Designation of a Motor Vehicle form, which tells the Texas DMV who the owner wants the car to go to.

The owner next completes the Application for Texas Title and/or Registration form, which asks the Texas DMV to reissue the title to the vehicle with the beneficiary's name on it. The guide contains both forms and instructions on how to complete and submit them.

Common questions about Automobiles

  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is usually listed on the proof of car insurance, or etched on the window of the car.
  • The full legal name of the person you want the car to go to.
  • Some form of ID that has been issued by the government, such as a driver’s license, ID card, or passport.

Yes. For help completing the form, contact your local county tax assessor-collector. It is probably best to go to their office and ask for help. If you do, make sure to have the information needed to complete the form with you, like the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), your driver’s license number or ID.

Instructions & Forms

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer.

Checklist Steps

To fill out the forms, you will need:

  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is usually listed on the proof of car insurance, or etched on the window of the car.
  • The full legal name of the person you want the car to go to.
  • Some form of ID that has been issued by the government, such as a driver’s license, ID card, or passport.

Note that there is also an application fee that ranges from $28 to $33.

It is common to contact one's local county tax assessor-collector for help completing the forms. It is probably best to go to their office and ask for assistance. If you do, make sure to have the information needed to complete the form with you, like the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), your driver’s license number or ID, and a means to pay the fee.

If you still wish to fill out the forms on your own, continue to Step 3.

Go here to download the forms.

In the Certification section, choose the box that meets your needs:

  • If you’ve never before named a beneficiary to this vehicle, check the first box that says you are “designating” the beneficiary.
  • If you’ve already named a beneficiary but have changed your mind and want someone else to get it, check the second box that says you are “changing” the beneficiary designation.
  • If you’ve already named a beneficiary and now don’t want that person or anyone else to get it, check the third box that says you are “revoking” the beneficiary designation.

Go here to download the forms.

General instructions:

  • In the “Applying for” section, check the “Title Only” box.
  • In the “For a corrected title or registration, check reason” section, check “Other” and write “Beneficiary Designation” in the blank.
  • It is unlikely that you will need to complete anything after number 28. Contact your local county tax assessor-collector for additional information.

Go here to download the forms.

File the forms with your county's tax assessor-collector's office. They will send you a new car title with the beneficiary’s name on it. The beneficiary’s name will also be listed in the Texas Department of Motor Vehicle’s database, which is important since the beneficiary does not need to have a physical copy of the title with their name on it to have the title transferred into their name after your death.

Forms Required

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