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How do I sell a junk car after the owner has died?

The sale of a junk vehicle after someone has died is possible but there are a number of steps that must be taken to do it LEGALLY in Virginia.

The first thing that happens is you need to determine who the executor or administrator of the estate is. This has to be a legally assigned person, be it an executor named in a will or an administrator assigned by the clerk of the court. Simply being “family” or a roommate etc does NOT make you an admin! Assuming you have the title it is possible to perform the resale using the existing title. The admin/executor of the estate will need to sign THEIR name on the seller signature line followed by the letters POA and then print THEIR name on the printed name of the seller followed by the letters POA. Using this method will require including an original copy of a death certificate AND documentation naming them as the admin/executor with the title to go with the title for the junk vehicle buyer. If anything is wrong or any document is lost between the time of sale and when the junk car buyer decides to go to DMV the paperwork won’t be accepted.

An alternate and we believe a better method is to put the vehicle title into the name of the actual estate before attempting to sell the junk vehicle. Things you will need to take with you:

-Death Certificate
-Executor or Administrator qualification documentation.
-Title to the vehicle.
-Signed power of attorney for a single transaction form IF any other named parties are on the title and they can not be present.
-EIN for the estate (You get this from the IRS, the same thing you would need to open a checking account for an estate)
-Your own id
-An appropriate form of payment (generally costs less than $20)

When you get to the DMV with this task not all tellers will have done this before or even be sure what to do. You need to tell them you want to “Transfer” the title from the deceased name into the name of the estate. You want to be clear that this is specifically a Transfer, and Not a sale! I would make sure not to write ANYTHING on the title until you are in front of the teller at DMV to make sure they understand what you are doing. Sometimes they will get a branch manager to oversee the process to ensure its done correctly.

In most cases the process however is fairly simple and similar to what is described here. Generally you will put the name of the estate on the buyers line of the title with your name on the signature of buyer line followed by the letters POA. In some cases the teller will want you to sign the seller line the same exact way or others will want that left blank as technically the seller is not present. You may also be required to fill out an address for the estate and other information about the estate. Be sure to use the address used by the administrator / executor for the estate and not necessarily the address of the deceased! This will be the same address as shown on the IRS documentation you got with the EIN. The EIN is one of those pieces of information you will be required to put on the title as part of the transfer in place of where an individual “buyers” social security or drivers license number would normally go.

This process will leave you with a clear open and easily transferable title in the name of the estate. When it is time to sell the vehicle the admin will write the name of the estate on the seller line and sign their own name followed by the letters POA on the signature of seller line. Be sure to require the junk vehicle buyer to close the title in their name by listing their name on the buyer’s line and make a copy for the estate’s records!

We hope you find this article useful. We cannot guarantee this is the exact process that will be required by your Virginia DMV location but this has been what was required for me over the number of times we have performed and assisted with the process.

For more information visit the Virginia DMV website at

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