Do I need to transfer the vehicle title as the surviving spouse?

Surviving Spouse Title Transfer

It's in your best interest to transfer the title into your name. This will eliminate any future snags or complications should you try to sell the vehicle. Before taking action, learn your state's rights and regulations regarding this surviving spouses and transferring titles. Each state is different.

For example, in New York the title automatically transfers into the spouse's name, provided the vehicle has a value of $15,000 or less. All that's required is paying a $50 car title fee, and there's no urgency to submit this because the surviving spouse can drive the vehicle until the registration or insurance expires. But in Wisconsin, for a title transfer to occur the surviving spouse must submit two specific forms, pay a $62 transfer fee, and provide a death certificate if the death occurred outside of Wisconsin or if the deceased was not a Wisconsin resident.

So to learn the specific requirements for your state, contact your local DMV office. Most DMV websites provide entire pages devoted to this topic, including what to do if there's a lien on the vehicle, or what actions to take if there's a will on the estate it's probated through the courts.

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