Deceased Person’s Matters

Coping with the loss of a loved one can be one of the hardest challenges many will face. DMV wants to make it as easy as possible to navigate practical matters during this difficult time; this guide will walk you through all the DMV-related tasks that you might need to address upon the death of a family member or friend (decedent).

You might need the following documents:

You will need to do the following:

  • Submit the decedent’s California DL/ID card to DMV (even if it is expired).
  • Include an original or certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate.
  • Submit a written statement listing the:
    • Decedent’s full name.
    • Decedent’s DL/ID card number.
    • The name of the person reporting the death, and their relationship to the decedent.
    • The signature and daytime phone number of the person reporting the death.

Send these items by mail to:

DMV-Issuance Unit
PO Box 942890, MS G204
Sacramento, CA 94290-0001

If you also need to return the decedent’s Disabled Person (DP) Parking Placard:

  • Mark the placard with an “X” on both sides so DMV knows it is no longer valid. Please ensure the placard number is still legible.
  • Submit the decedent’s DP parking placard within 60 days of the owner’s death.
  • Fill out the Statement of Facts (REG 256) form (Section G) stating the:
    • Decedent’s name.
    • Placard number.
    • Decedent’s date of death.
    • Name of the person reporting the death, and their relationship to the decedent.
    • The signature and daytime phone number of the person reporting the death.
    • Submit the placard with the form to your local DMV office or by mail.

Send these items by mail to:

DMV
PO Box 942869, MS C271
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

Other Steps to Consider

Once you have submitted the decedent’s California DL/ID card and returned any Disabled Person (DP) placards, you must also consider the following:

If the decedent owns a vehicle or boat/vessel, please note that you must maintain the vehicle/vessel’s registration while managing matters of the decedent’s estate. This includes:

  • Ensuring registration fees are paid.
  • If the vehicle will not be used, place the vehicle on planned non-operation (PNO) status by filling out a Planned Non-Operation Certification (REG 102) form before the registration expiration date. Please note that if PNO fees are paid after registration expires, penalties will be applied.
  • Cancel liability coverage with the decedent’s insurance company and then submit an Affidavit of Non-Use (REG 5090) form to DMV. You can file online or fill out a paper copy and mail the form to the DMV (address is noted on the form itself).

If ownership of the decedent’s vehicle will be transferred to another person, you must submit the following information to DMV:

  • A Statement of Facts (REG 256) form (Section G).
  • If the decedent’s vehicle is less than 10 years old, you must submit an odometer disclosure statement with the California Certificate of the Title or Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262). The REG 262 form is not available online because it is printed on security paper, which makes it compliant with federal odometer disclosure regulations.
  • Any fees for the transfer of ownership, including registration renewal and use tax (if applicable).

A power of attorney (POA) cannot sign a REG 5 form.

In certain situations, the decedent’s heir may transfer the title of a vehicle/vessel without going through the probate process. Here are the eligibility requirements:

  • A completed Affidavit for Transfer Without Probate California Titled Vehicle or Vessels Only (REG 5) form filled out by one of the following:
    • Person(s) who succeeded to the property of the decedent.
    • Conservator or guardian of the property of the person(s) who succeeded to the property of the decedent.
    • Beneficiary under the decedent’s last will and testament.
    • Trustee(s), under a trust agreement by the deceased, in which the primary beneficiaries are the next of kin.

If the vehicle was owned jointly by two or more decedents, this form should list the most recent decedent’s information.

  • The value of the decedent’s property in California does not exceed $166,250 (if the decedent died on or after 1/1/20).
  • If the decedent died before January 1, 2020, the property value must not exceed $150,000.

This does not include vehicles, vessels, commercial coaches, or manufactured, mobile, or floating homes. To calculate the decedent’s property value, see California Probate Code §13050.

  • The decedent’s vehicle/vessel is titled in California.

Vehicles/vessels titled in another state must be transferred in that state (requirements may differ from California).

  • It has been 40 or more days since the registered or legal owner’s date of death.
  • An original or certified copy of each owner’s death certificate.
  • If the vehicle is owned jointly by two or more persons and one is deceased, a REG 5 cannot be used to circumvent the surviving owner’s interest. However, the surviving owner (if an heir) may complete a REG 5 to release the decedent’s interest. The title must be signed twice, once by the surviving owner and once on behalf of the decedent.

Establishment of a trust commits the property or assets of an individual(s) to a trustee for use or safekeeping.

  • A releasing signature for a trust cannot be made by POA, unless the POA document is restricted to a specific transaction.
  • If more than one trustee is shown without “or,” or a slash (/) between the names, each trustee must sign the title.
  • If the trustee signing is not shown on the title, a REG 256 (Section G) is required attesting to their appointment as successor trustee by the trustor or retiring trustee.
  • If a trustee releases interest of a vehicle/vessel not registered to a trust, ownership is determined by the decedent’s will as contained in the trust document. The trust document and REG 262 copies may be required.
  • If no trustee name is shown on the title, a REG 256 (Section G) is required attesting to their appointment as trustee or successor trustee by the trustor.

The Certificate of Title must be signed for the decedent and countersigned by the executor or administrator.

Title transfers between parents and their children, spouses, grandparents and grandchildren, domestic partners, and siblings are exempt from the transfer smog certification requirements if confirmed with the following form:

When a vehicle changes ownership, the vehicle’s value is usually re-assessed based on the purchase price (if purchased) or on the current market value (if a gift) to determine the appropriate vehicle license fee (VLF).

Specific family transfers are excluded from vehicle value reclassification.

If the decedent was issued any special license plates, they must also be surrendered to DMV.

Environmental License Plates must be surrendered to DMV unless the applicant is the heir named on the court documents or REG 5.

  • If ownership is released by an administrator or executor, the relationship of the transferee to the decedent must be declared on a Statement of Facts form (REG 256).

DP License Plates must be surrendered to DMV upon expiration of the registration, or within 60 days of the owner’s death, whichever occurs first.

Disabled Veteran (DV) License Plates must be surrendered to DMV by December 31 of the current year, or within 60 days of the owner’s death, whichever occurs first.

Former Prisoner of War, Legion of Valor, Pearl Harbor Survivor, and Purple Heart License Plates
The surviving spouse of the decedent may retain these license plates and their privileges, which may include exemption from vehicle registration, license plate reassignment, addition, deletion, and replacement fees.

  • The surviving spouse must complete a Statement of Facts (REG 256) stating that they are the owner’s spouse and wishes to retain the license plates.

Former Prisoner of War and Purple Heart License Plates Only
Upon the death of the owner and surviving spouse (if any), another family member (parent, stepparent, children, stepchildren, grandparent, step grandparent, sibling, or stepsibling) may retain one license plate as a family heirloom. The remaining license plate must be returned to DMV upon expiration of the vehicle registration, or within 60 days of the decedent’s death, whichever occurs first.

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