Inheriting a Vehicle
Titling a Vehicle After a Death
The SCDMV understands that dealing with cars after a death can be a challenging and sensitive experience. Depending on how the vehicle was titled before a person's death determines what may be necessary to correctly title the vehicle.
Personal Representatives of Estates
If you are designated a personal representative (PR) of an estate, you may have the ability to sign a title over to a new owner when the person who is currently the owner on the title dies. In this state, PRs are typically assigned for a year.
If you are attempting to transfer a title to a new person and you are the PR for the estate, you must do all of the following:
- Provide the SCDMV with the certificate from Probate Court showing that you are the PR,
- Sign the back of the title as the "seller" in your name with (PR) beside it, and
- Follow the other steps outlined when selling a vehicle.
If you are the PR and you would like to have a title issued in your name instead of the name of the person who died, you would follow the above steps but also sign the back of the title as the "buyer." Upon paying the proper fees, the SCDMV could issue you a title in your name. From there, you could follow the steps for buying a vehicle if you want a license plate to be able to drive the car or decide if you would like to sell the vehicle using the title issued in your name.
Inheriting a Vehicle when You're Not on the Title
If you are not listed on the title in question, yet court documents outline that you are the vehicle's new owner after the person on the title died, the Probate Court must direct the SCDMV on the way forward.
The Probate Court will appoint a PR, and if so, you would follow the process above, or a Small Estate Affidavit would be issued by the Probate Court. The Affidavit only allows the vehicle to be titled in the name of the person appointed by the Probate Court. The Affidavit does not allow a person to sign the title to the vehicle to another person.
One Person Listed on the Title Died
If you are on a title with an "or" relationship and the other person on the title died, you are able to take any action on the vehicle as if the person on the title never died.
You may decide to transfer the vehicle from both names to only your name, and if you do, you must complete the appropriate forms and pay the appropriate fees. In this case, follow the steps for selling a vehicle.
If you are on a title with an "and" relationship and the other person on the title died, you are required to follow the direction of the Probate Court to determine what can be done with the vehicle.
Last Will and Testament
The Probate Court will determine if a will is legal and can be used to transfer ownership to a new person once the person listed on the title dies. In general, the SCDMV does not interpret or accept wills for titles.