Motor Vehicle Transfer
and the Probate Process
Web Page. . .
This publication is
intended as a service to the public in order to provide a general
understanding of the probate process as it pertains to motor vehicle
transfer in Ohio.
This web page should
not be considered as a legal reference. If you have a legal question
pertaining to motor vehicle transfer, you should consult a lawyer.
always need an attorney to handle the estate of a decedent?
Legal practice in
the probate court is restricted by law to attorneys who are licensed
by the Supreme Court of Ohio. If an individual wishes to handle his
or her own case, they may do so; however, they must not represent
Due to the
complexity of probate law and the desire to avoid costly errors,
many people choose to be represented by an attorney.
Deputy Clerks are
prevented from practicing law and, therefore, are limited in the
amount of advice they are permitted to give.
If you need
a Lawyer. . .
Many local bar
associations offer lawyer referral services. In Lucas County you may
call the Toledo Bar Association at (419)242-2000 for a referral. Ask
for free information when you call.
The Ohio State Bar
Association also cosponsors the statewide pro seniors legal hotline
and referral service for persons over age 60.
For more information
about this service call 1-800-488-6070
· Trusts · Survivorship
The applicant for
transfer of title who has inherited a motor vehicle from an estate
must have the title (in the deceased person's name), an
authorization from the Lucas County Probate Court for the transfer
of the title of the vehicle and "letters of authority" to
show who has been appointed by the court to handle the decedent's
estate (which will be provided to you by the attorney for the
estate). The transfer is tax-exempt and no odometer statement is
If you have
purchased a motor vehicle from an estate, you will need the
vehicle's title (in the decedent's name), the transfer of motor
vehicle form from the probate court and a copy of the "letters
of authority" from the attorney of record. The assignment on
the back of the title should be completed and signed by the person
indicated on the "letters of authority."
(purchaser) must complete the application on the back of the title.
The purchase price must be stated and sales tax will be collected
when the new title is issued.
You will also need
an odometer statement (these forms are available at your local auto
You are not required
to present a copy of the trust agreement when transferring a vehicle
to or from a trust. When purchasing a motor vehicle from a trust,
the buyer completes the application on the back of the title and the
trustee completes the assignment.
The purchase price
must be stated and sales tax will be collected when the new title is
issued. You will also need an odometer statement (these forms are
available at your local auto title office).
If the certificate
of title lists the applicant as a joint owner of the motor vehicle
with a right of survivorship, such as: John Doe and Mary Smith, wros
(with right of survivorship), The signature of both parties are
required to transfer the vehicle if both are living.
If one of the
parties is deceased, the survivor may apply for a Certificate of
Title by presenting proof of the decedent's death and completing the
back of the existing title.
statement is not required.
the Vehicle of a Decedent
How do I transfer
ownership of the vehicle of a decedent to a surviving spouse? The
surviving spouse must present a title (in either their deceased
spouse's name or both of their names) and a surviving spouse
affidavit to the title clerk at a local auto title office. The
1) Approximate value
of the automobile
2) Vehicle's year of manufacture
3) Manufacturer's serial number
4) Make (manufacturer's name)
5) Body type model
6) Ohio certificate of title number
The application on
the back of the title must be completed and sworn to by the
surviving spouse in front of a notary public, attorney, clerk or
Only one automobile
or pickup truck may be transferred by this affidavit if the death of
the spouse was before March 11, 1996. If the death occurred on or
after this date, two automobiles or pickup trucks may be transferred
by this method. All other vehicles must be transferred by the
This transfer does
not affect any liens upon the vehicle.
In addition to
the previously mentioned requirements, out-of-state titles
require vehicle inspections (available at license agencies).
If a duplicate
title is needed, the individual listed on the "letters of
authority" may sign the application for issuance of a
If a title has
been assigned to a person who dies prior to titling the vehicle,
the applicant may transfer the title by presenting "letters
of authority" and the probate court order authorizing
transfer. If the vehicle was purchased, sales tax must be paid.
What if a
previously unknown vehicle is found after the estate is closed?
In this event, the
attorney of record should be contacted. They will need to reopen the
estate, report the vehicle to the probate court, and obtain the
necessary authority to transfer the vehicle.
The name of the
attorney of record can be obtained through the probate court.
Probate Court handles a decedent's estate?
residence (at the time of death) determines which probate court
handles the decedent's estate. If the decedent owned property in
multiple states, the probate process must begin in the decedent's
state of residence.
How would a
non-relative co-habitant of a decedent be able to retain possession
of a motor vehicle?
If the non-relative
co-habitant was listed on the certificate of title as joint owner
with right of survivorship, the applicant must present proof of the
death of the other joint owner (and the completed certificate of
title) to the clerk to transfer. This transfer is tax exempt.
If the non-relative
co-habitant was not a joint owner but inherited the motor vehicle
through the will of the decedent, they should follow the
"Inheritance from Estate" process outlined earlier.
If the non-relative
co-habitant was not a joint owner and did not receive the motor
vehicle through the will of the decedent, they may have to purchase
the vehicle from the estate to retain possession.
Does it make
any difference if the decedent left a will?
No. Regardless of
whether the decedent died with or without a will, the transfer of
the motor vehicle must properly follow the processes previously
outlined. You may not transfer the motor vehicle of a decedent by
merely presenting the will to the auto title clerk.
The will must be
filed in the probate court.
After the title is
transferred by any of the previously mentioned methods, the
applicant should take the new title to a deputy registrar in order
to register the vehicle.
The application for
registration may be obtained at a license agency. The application
shall be accompanied by a service fee, a transfer fee and the newly
transferred certificate of title.
Upon proper filing,
the deputy registrar will issue a certificate of registration in the
name of the applicant. If the applicant is a surviving spouse, the
plates will remain on the vehicle but the registration will need to
be updated and/or renewed. If the applicant is not a surviving
spouse, the new owner will be issued a certificate of registration
and a new set of license plates.
If the owner of a
motor vehicle is deceased and the person appointed by the court has
not yet transferred the vehicle, a one-time renewal registration for
the deceased may be issued by the license agency (upon presentation
of the decedent's registration and the "letters of
Though the renewal
registration will remain in the decedent's name, the applicant must
use his/her own social security number and sign the application and
accompanying forms (including the financial responsibility
Fees for Title Service
(per section 4505.09, O.R.C.)
5.00 * $6.00 Walk-in
Certificate of Title
Notation of Lien
fees are subject to change. For additional
information or if you have any questions in regards to fees, please
contact the Lucas County Clerk of Courts (419)213-8844
not contact the Lucas County Probate Court****
A 7.25% use tax must
be paid by a resident of Ohio when he / she purchases a motor
vehicle outside of the State of Ohio. This applies to the purchase
of any motor vehicle either for use or storage in Ohio.
If the tax had been
paid out of state at the time of purchase, the customer must furnish
the title office with proof of such payment. The difference in the
tax, if any, is due at that time.
The Ohio State
Legislature enacted a sales tax law (effective 5/21/51) on casual
sales of motor vehicles.
purchasing a motor vehicle from another person will be required to
state the purchase price, upon which a 7.25% sales tax is levied.
This statement must be sworn to before a person duly authorized to
all boats and motors became taxable in the same manner as motor
vehicles. Any person purchasing a boat or motor from another person
will be required to state the purchase price, upon which a 7.25%
sales tax is levied. This statement must be sworn to before a person
duly authorized to administer oaths.
to Pay for Title Fees and Taxes
Ohio sales tax and
use tax must be paid in cash, certified
check, draft or money order to the Clerk
of Courts before an application for an automobile or watercraft
title can be accepted. For your convenience, we now also accept
master card and visa.
The Clerk of Courts
is required to administer this law and collect this tax for the
State of Ohio. Please note that the fees and tax rates listed on
this web page are provided for information only and are subject to
change without notice.
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