The death of a family member is perhaps the biggest reminder of life’s uncertainties. Here one moment, gone the next; there is no greater symbolism of the frailty of human life than death itself. Unfortunately, death, besides creating a big emotional hole in the family’s life, also creates numerous legal and financial hurdles. One amongst these is the ownership of any car that the deceased owns and transferring the same.

The process for transferring the car varies greatly depending on whether the vehicle was in the individual’s name only or was a joint ownership. So, the first step you need to do is to check the title. There are three possible scenarios here:

  1. Joint Ownership
  2. Single Ownership, with a valid legal will
  3. Single Ownership, with no legal will

While the actual transfer process varies greatly for all three, a few steps are common to all.

Common steps

  1. Check if the car is financed. If it’s under a loan, then visit the bank or the financier to get an NOC on the transfer. You can also choose to repay the entire loan, if you can.
  2. Apply for a legal heir certificate if you have not done so already.

Joint ownership

The process is simple in joint ownership where the claimant (the person who is filing for new ownership) is a joint owner on the title. The claimant needs to produce the car registration certificate along with a certified death certificate in the RTO, sign the ownership application and get it transferred.

Single Ownership, with a valid legal will

If the title was only in the deceased’s name, then the process gets more complicated and varies depending on whether a will regarding the next ownership has been made. If there is a valid legal will, then the claimant needs to produce the car registration certificate, a copy of the will, a photo identification (preferably Aadhar) and the death certificate in the RTO, fill in the ownership application and get it transferred.

Single Ownership, with no legal will

If a person passes away intestate, ideally all the assets go to the immediate kin. According to the RTO, the transfer of ownership is to immediate family only (father -> mother -> children in order of chronological age), unless specified by a document that can be proven legal. So, in the absence of a will, the new ownership application is to be presented at the RTO by the legal heir or successor of the vehicle with the following documents:

  1. Original copy of death certificate of the registered owner
  2. Legal heir certificate issued by Tehsildar. In some cases, a succession certificate or affidavits by the family members relinquishing their claim might be needed in addition to the legal heir certificate.
  3. Car registration certificate
  4. Copy of the car insurance policy
  5. NOC from financier/bank, if the car is financed
  6. Attested copies of the applicant’s PAN Card and Aadhar card
  7. Applicant’s photo
  8. Attested copy of a valid and updated PUC certificate

Once you have all the relevant documents, visit the RTO and apply for a transfer at the earliest. You can apply for a transfer either at the RTO where the car was originally registered or at your place of residence. Do ensure that you follow the official channel and not succumb to any agent, as the process is simple and pretty quick.

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