Experiencing the grief of losing a loved one is all consuming and emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. It also requires a large amount task work, both large and small, that must be handled in some manner. One item that must be addressed is how to cancel your deceased loved one’s driver’s license.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), is very sympathetic with those who have lost loved ones and typically attempt to make the process as easy as possible for you to manage your loved one’s driver’s license and other vehicle records.
After losing a loved one you’ll need to contact the local DMV in order to cancel the driver’s license or identification card, cancel any disabled signs or license plates issued in the deceased’s name, transfer any vehicle registrations, and/or transfer vehicle title ownership.
Canceling a Driver’s License or Identification Card
Bring a copy of the death certificate along with the deceased’s driver’s license or identification card to the DMV customer service center. If you can’t visit a center in person, you can mail a notarized copy of the death certificate along with the deceased’s driver’s license or identification card. Explain to the representative that you want to clear the driver’s license or identification card of the deceased. By doing so, you will not receive any further mail. You are also helping prevent any theft of your loved one’s identity.
Canceling Disabled Signs or License Plates
If the deceased had any disabled signs or license plates in their name, you will need to return them to the DMV. Typically, you can exchange disabled license plates with regular license plates at no additional cost. All disable signs become invalid after the DMV has been notified of the deceased’s death. The length of time before the signs become invalid varies, so that is something you will need to check with the local authorities.
Transferring Vehicle Registration
Any license plates and vehicle registrations remain valid after the owner passes away until one of the following occurs: the current registration period ends; the administrator or executor transfers vehicle ownership; or the designated beneficiary transfers the vehicle title into his or her name.
Transferring Vehicle Title Ownership
The method for transferring vehicle title ownership varies, depending on the situation.
If you are a joint owner of the vehicle with the right of survivorship, then you can change the title of the vehicle to list only your name as long as you provide the DMV with a copy of the death certificate, the vehicle title, and pay any required fees.
If you are a beneficiary who is designated on the title, then you can change the title of the vehicle to your name by providing the DMV with a copy of the deceased’s death certificate, the title of the vehicle, and pay any necessary fees.
If you are a joint owner with the right of survivorship or not a joint owner at all then the process is slightly more involved. In these cases, the executor of the deceased’s estate will need to provide the DMV with a copy of the death certificate, the vehicle title, a letter of testamentary, and pay any applicable fees before vehicle title ownership can be transferred.