How to Title an Inherited Vehicle in Texas

by Michelle Cheri

    A Texas resident may inherit a vehicle in a variety of ways following the death of a friend or family member. Whether a vehicle is inherited by a will, through intestacy, or by joint title, the inheritor is responsible for transferring the vehicle’s title to his own name. The heir to the vehicle must file specific documents according to state guidelines to properly transfer the vehicle’s title before beginning to use the vehicle as his own.

    Probate Court Proceedings

    Step 1

    Determine whether the deceased person assigned the vehicle to a beneficiary by a will. If the vehicle was assigned to a beneficiary by a will, the executor (the person in charge of administering the distribution of assets according to the will) has the right to assign the title to the named beneficiary. If no will exists, the deceased has died “intestate” and all assets must be assigned and distributed with the approval of the probate court.

    Step 2

    Wait for the conclusion of the probate proceedings. Once the estate has been probated, the probate court will provide a certified copy of the probate proceedings (Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration) to the executor or probate administrator.

    Step 3

    Obtain a certified copy of the Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration from the executor or probate administrator.

    Preparing the Vehicle for Transfer

    Step 1

    Determine whether a lien exists on the vehicle. If a lien exists, the balance due should be paid to the lienholder prior to transferring the title to ensure a transfer “free and clear of lien” to the named heir.

    Step 2

    Obtain liability insurance for the vehicle in the heir’s name.

    Step 3

    Contact the county tax assessor-collector to determine the fees required for transfer, and whether the vehicle requires renewal of the state-required inspection or registration. If the vehicle is due for updated registration or inspection, follow the county’s instructions for renewal.

    Step 4

    Complete Texas Department of Motor Vehicles form 130-U: Texas Application for Certificate of Title. Follow all instructions listed on the second page of the form. The executor must complete sections 15, 18, 21 and 22 of the form.

    Step 5

    Complete Texas Department of Motor Vehicles form VTR-262: Affidavit of Heirship for a Motor Vehicle. List the vehicle’s year, make, body style, model, license plate number, vehicle identification number, and title number on the top portion of the form. Complete the information regarding the purchaser's or heir’s name and address, and the information required in the Odometer Disclosure Statement section. Follow all instructions listed on the second page of the form. Do not sign any section of the form.

    Step 6

    Sign the form in the presence of a notary public. If the probate court proceedings determined that no administration of the estate was necessary, but there are multiple heirs to the property, all heirs must sign the Affidavit of Heirship of a Motor Vehicle. Ask the notary to sign and stamp or seal the document.

    Transferring the Vehicle Title

    Step 1

    Go to the local county tax assessor-collector's office with the executor and pay the fees required to transfer the title.

    Step 2

    Submit the executed Texas Application for Certificate of Title, Affidavit of Heirship for a Motor Vehicle, a certified copy of the Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration, a valid driver's license for both the beneficiary and executor, proof of liability insurance, proof that the vehicle passed inspection, and a registration receipt.

    Step 3

    Accept the completed county documents designating the transfer to the named beneficiary.

    Things Needed

    • Certified copy of Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration
    • Valid driver's license

    Tips & Warnings

    • Transfer the title within 20 days of the inheritance to avoid state and county fines for late transfer.
    • The beneficiary should not drive the vehicle until liability insurance is obtained in the beneficiary's name.
    • Complete the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles forms truthfully. Falsifying information on any state-required application or statement is a third-degree felony under Texas Transportation Code § 501.155.

    About the Author

    Michelle Cheri is a paralegal, mediator, writer and self-proclaimed bibliophile. Her published work includes pieces on legislative bias, open government/court proceedings, legal ethics, general legal topics and personal finance. Prior to entering the field of law, Cheri studied culinary arts in Austria and France. Cheri enjoys travel, reading, live music, and perfecting the art of the green smoothie.

    Photo Credits

    • Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images