BMV Tips for a Surviving Loved One...


A guide for a surviving spouse, family members and friends of someone who is deceased.

This information will assist you when you transfer ownership of any vehicle owned by a deceased spouse, friend or relative.

How Do I Transfer Ownership of the Deceased’s Vehicle?

Here is how to transfer a Certificate of Title:


Upon the death of a married resident who owned at least one automobile at the time of death, the interest of the deceased spouse in up to two automobiles that are not transferred to the surviving spouse due to joint ownership with right of survivorship established under section 2131.12 of the Revised Code, that are not transferred to a transfer-on-death beneficiary or beneficiaries designated under section 2131.13 of the Revised Code, and that are not otherwise specifically disposed of by testamentary disposition may be selected by the surviving spouse. This interest shall immediately pass to the surviving spouse upon transfer of the title or titles in accordance with section 4505.10 of the Revised Code. The sum total of the values of the automobiles selected by a surviving spouse under

this division, as specified in the affidavit that the surviving spouse executes pursuant to division (B) of section 4505.10 of the Revised Code, shall not exceed $40,000. Automobile includes a motorcycle and includes a truck if the truck was used as a method of conveyance by the deceased spouse or the deceased spouse’s family when the deceased spouse was alive.  The surviving spouse would apply for affidavit at the Clerks of Court Title Office. This affidavit requires:

a) Approximate value of the automobile(s)

b) Year

c) Vehicle identification number

d) Make

e) Model

f) Body type

g) Ohio Certificate of Title numbers

Take these documents (original title, death certificate and affidavit) to any county Clerk of Courts Title Office.


The transfer of title will proceed through application for title by the surviving spouse at the county Clerk of Courts

Title Office. This transfer does not affect any liens upon the automobile(s). If a lien exists, it will be carried forward.

The title fee is $15.00 plus any notary fees.

When There is a Will/Estate


When there is an estate involved and a Will is probated through the courts, the executor appointed will act for the

transfer of ownership of the vehicle(s).



The Executor will have a copy of the court-executed document showing appointment as the Executor. He/She will

give the properly assigned Ohio title document to the heir or the buyer. The heir or the buyer can then take the Ohio title and the copy of the appointment paper, or other documents as may be required by the county, to the county Clerk of Courts Title Office. Please check with your county Clerk of Courts Title Office on requirements.

When There is No Will


When there is no Will, an heir should go to the Probate Court to get a form called “Release from administration with authority to transfer.”


The heir should take this release form (noting complete description of the vehicle and transferee name) and the original Ohio Certificate of Title document to the county Clerk of Courts Title Office for transfer of ownership of the vehicle.

How Do I Call the County Clerk of Courts Title Office?

In all instances of title transfer, the surviving spouse, Executor or Administrator should contact a County Clerk of

Courts Title Office for additional information or assistance. The Clerk of Courts Title Office telephone numbers are

listed in the government section of your telephone book (White Pages). Sometimes it is listed under the county section as “Auto Title Department.” In some locations, the title office will be in the courthouse. If the telephone book only lists a courthouse number, call the courthouse and tell the operator you need the Clerk of Courts Title Office. Also, you can find the numbers online at, under “Title Information Branch Office Locations.”

What About the Registration?


After the title is transferred to the surviving spouse’s name, the surviving spouse should take the new title to a deputy registrar license agency.


At the license agency, the application for registration should be accompanied by a service fee of $3.50, a transfer fee of $1.00 and the newly transferred Certificate of Title.


Upon the proper filing, the deputy registrar will issue a certificate of registration in the name of the surviving spouse.


With the title and registration now in the surviving spouse’s name, the plates remain on the vehicle and are the responsibility of the surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, the new owner will be issued a new set of regular plates and registration at a license agency.


If the owner is deceased and the vehicle is still in the estate and not yet probated, an Executor or Administrator of an estate may renew the registration up to two registration cycles for the deceased at a deputy registrar license agency.

If the title has not yet been transferred to the surviving spouse, and the renewal registration remains in the deceased’s name, the Executor or Administrator must use his/her own Social Security number and sign the application and financial responsibility statement. After two renewal cycles (maximum) the vehicle must be titled in the new owner’s name. NOTE: A FEW SPECIAL PLATES ISSUED IN A LIMITED NUMBER WILL ONLY BE PROCESSED AT THE BMV IN COLUMBUS. CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL DEPUTY REGISTRAR FOR THESE TYPES OF PLATES. FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CALL (614)752-7800.

In Summary

As you prepare to settle your family member’s or friend’s estate, you can feel confident in knowing that the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles employees and the Clerks of Court Title Office employees stand poised and ready to assist you in any way possible.