Changing Owners on Car Titles


My little family had been accumulating cars. My husband’s sporty Mazda (6 years old) my daughter’s Mazda (10 years old) and my Toyota van (15 years old). They were all in my husband’s name, as was the insurance, of course.

It was time to get the titles changed to my name. I am the Executor of my husband’s will. To make the change I took the three “old” titles, along with a Letter of Testamentary to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

A Letter of Testamentary, sometimes called a “Letter of Administration” or “Letter of Representation,” is a document granted by a local court. The document simply states that you are the legal executor for a particular estate and that you have the ability to act as such. Procuring these documents was one of the things that my lawyer agreed to do, and I considered it a good investment. I have several original letters, and have so far needed them at the bank, picking up my husband’s last paycheck, and now at the DMV. My lawyer provided ten originals. Generally, a Letter of Testamentary and a legally binding death certificate are the two documents you’ll need to do real estate transactions, banking, and asset distribution as the executor of the estate.

First, I went to the DMV closest to my house ( ten minutes away), waited in line about fifteen minutes, and was told that they did not do title work there, but rather at another DMV about fifteen minutes away (thank goodness it was that close!)

So, at the second DMV, I walked right in (there was no line), and started the process.  First I had to “sell” the cars as the executer of the will, then I had to buy them back as myself. For three cars.  It took about 30 minutes and $240. The person helping me was very efficient! Unfortunately, by the time I was the proud owner of the three cars, there were about ten people waiting in line.

But – another item is checked off my list.

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