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Our car was registered under my name and my late husband’s. How do I clear title now that he has passed away?

How do I clear title now?

If the ownership document (pink slip) of a vehicle shows your name and your late husband’s name joined by “or” (Nancy Miller or Robert Jenks, for instance), or joined by “and” but with the mention “as joint tenants” (Nancy Miller and Robert Jenks, as joint tenants), then the vehicle is held in joint tenancy.

If you would like to clear title, then the transfer of ownership can be done with the assistance of an automobile club. You can also go directly to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) who will confirm how to proceed. Furthermore, you will be asked to submit:

  • A copy of the deceased’s death certificate
  • The vehicle’s pink slip, which is signed on the back by the surviving tenant (you)
  • The registration slip of the vehicle
  • A transfer fee

Sometimes, the owner mentions a beneficiary in case of death with a transfer on death form, which is done when registering the vehicle. The same procedure as described above would apply.

In conclusion, we advise that you call San Diego estate planning and probate attorney Scott Grossman for a free discussion of your case. You may also order his free book The Insider’s Guide to California Probate and Trust Administration to learn more about the probate process.

Beneficiary (noun):

A person who benefits from a trust, will, or life insurance policy. This includes heir, heiress, inheritor, legatee; recipient, receiver, payee, donee, assignee; devisee, grantee.

Joint Tenancy (noun):

The ownership of an estate or property jointly by two or more parties. The portion of each passing to the other owners on death.

Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman


The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307

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