How to sell a car of a deceased person

How to sell a car of a deceased person? Everything you need to know!

The death of anyone close, or someone you know can be a tragic event, and there is a lot that falls on the person to deal with. One question that many people have after this event, is how to sell a car of a deceased person? What are the legal, and financial implications of this event? These are, of course, perfectly valid questions that one would ask. The responsibility, naturally, falls on the people close to the deceased person. 

It is obviously something we don’t think about every day or anticipate; thus, most people are completely clueless as to how this is handled properly. However, there are a few ways you can manage this and easily dispose of the vehicle safely, and legally. 

Not only can you take the burden away from yourself and respect the deceased individual; you can even earn something for the time you put into selling the automobile.

Sell a car of a deceased person

This is a difficult subject, but there are a few legal responsibilities that fall on the people involved with the deceased. There are a few scenarios worth discussing, which should cover all major groups of people that may have been involved with the deceased person.

What happens to a vehicle when the owner dies? – What are intestate laws?

When a person dies due to any reason, their belongings are distributed among the people that they have mentioned in their will. But what happens to a vehicle when the owner dies? Well, if that person left a will, then it’s fairly straightforward, and the transfer is simple. 

However, if there never was a will, the intestate laws go into motion and the state has to personally become involved with the situation. They try and locate any close relatives that could be potential heirs to the vehicle by data available. It can be a messy process and take some time to fully resolve, as there are potentially multiple cases where the intestate laws are applied on a regular basis. This is why it is encouraged that we sort out our wills, loans, insurance, and payments in a timely manner. 

If for any reason, there is absolutely no one the state can give the vehicle to, and no one attempts to make a claim for the car, it is sold off and the money goes to the state.

Vehicle transfer after death of the owner – How to Proceed

The first thing to check is whether the deceased left a will or testimony. Relatives of the deceased are most likely to be mentioned in it, and what the deceased has left to them. If the car was left to a specific person, they will become the executor of the estate and in this case, the car. Becoming executor of the estate entails you the privilege of selling the vehicle

To fully legally own the vehicle, the new owner has to do a couple of things:

  • submit the copies of registration,
  • provide the death certificate,
  • submit a letter of testamentary provided by the state to their local driving licensing government organization.

After reviewing documents, the transfer of ownership will commence and the person mentioned in the will shall attain full ownership. This is the easiest way to ensure that the vehicle transfer after the death of the owner commences legally.

However, if there is a will, but the car isn’t directly mentioned, then members of the family already mentioned in the will can apply for a claim.

This means, that they can contact the State, and provide their data to make a claim over the estate. The State will review the facts, and data provided by the members close to the deceased. Then, they will decide who is the most appropriate candidate for the estate, which in this case is the vehicle. 

The State is always in favor of transferring ownership to the closest kin; if no one makes a claim, the State will first search for closest kin, as described above.

Selling an Inherited Car – The Final Step

After you have full ownership of the car and have been approved by your local government-run driver’s license organization, you can sell your car. The difficult part is out of the way. Since you now legally own the car, you can sell it just like any other. The ownership has been transferred to you, and it is up to you how you want to sell it; whether that is through an online website like eBay, or physically. The required documents will be in your possession; thus,  selling an inherited car becomes very easy. Getting the documents will take their legal time. However, it is never a long period, or intrusive.

There is another crucial thing to mention. If the vehicle had any due installments, and the deceased passed away during that period, the responsibility for those payments falls on the next owner. So before you go forward with the selling, please make sure that there aren’t any unpaid dues. Once those are cleared, you are free to do as you wish.


Now that you fully understand how to sell a car of a deceased person, you are ready to become the owner and potential seller of a vehicle that belonged to a close one. This is a sad time, but taking charge of the situation and getting these things sorted is not only the moral but a decent thing to do. 

Essentially, the relatively difficult part is actually getting ownership of a vehicle, and after that, all you have to do is sell it, which as we know, is not a very difficult task these days, especially because of the internet. If all goes well, you could be inheriting and selling the car within weeks of the process. While there are instances almost daily about how the estate of a deceased is left for the State to manage, most people are generally quick to inherit the possessions properly, and legally.