What to do if I inherited a vehicle and never transferred the title to my name and it was then totaled due to a driver falling asleep behind the wheel?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What to do if I inherited a vehicle and never transferred the title to my name and it was then totaled due to a driver falling asleep behind the wheel?

The insurance company now wants to pay me for the car but they first want the title to the vehicle which I misplaced. Is it necessary transfer the title at this point? If so, how would I go about getting a copy of the title since it’s not in my name? Also, will the Will serve as a proof of ownership for the insurance company?

Asked on August 12, 2015 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The first step to legally establish that the vehicle is yours.  If the insurance company and the DMV will accept the will as evidence that the vehicle is yours, then you don't need to do much more.  However, some will require at least an affidavit of heirship, order of probate, or similar document regarding disposition of the estate... these are documents which would declare you were an heir and the car was part of the estate that you inherited. 

Your second stop is to get a replacement title.  There are forms at the vehicle registration office for obtaining lost titles. 

Once you have the title, and you've established that the vehicle is legally yours, then you want the insurance company to cut the check in your name.  If you don't resolve the title issues before they cut the check, they could be required to issue the check to the estate... which would make it potentially subject to division with the other heirs.

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