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How to transfer vehicle ownership of the deceased in Ontario

Don't know how to transfer vehicle ownership of the deceased in Ontario? Our guide has got you covered. Follow these simple steps to get it done:

How to transfer vehicle ownership of the deceased in Ontario

As the executor of a loved one's estate, you're tasked with a number of responsibilities, one of which is transferring ownership of the estate car - either to a beneficiary or through a private sale.

This process can be confusing and complex, but with the right information, it can be handled efficiently and effectively.

In this article, we'll guide you through the steps involved in transferring ownership of a car after someone has passed away in Ontario, helping you navigate this process with confidence.

Get ready to gain a deeper understanding of the process and to ensure a smooth transition of ownership.

What documents are needed to transfer ownership of a car in Ontario?

For vehicle transactions in Ontario, required documents vary based on sale/purchase/transfer.

In the event you as the estate trustee are looking to transfer the ownership of a vehicle from the decedent to a beneficiary or to a buyer, the following documents are required:

  • The original will, or a copy of it
  • Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee (regardless of whether there was a will)
  • Death certificate
  • Vehicle ownership papers (registration, vehicle information, VIN, address of owner)
  • Personal identification of the executor
  • Proof of insurance for the decedent’s vehicle
  • Sworn Statement for the Transfer of a Used Vehicle in Ontario (you can find the form here)
  • Safety standards certificate (this is issued by an inspection station or licensed mechanic authorized by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario)
  • Plate transfer declaration (if using new plates)

Remember:

if the person receiving ownership of the vehicle is the decedent’s spouse, a safety standards certificate is not required. However, they will need to fill out a Spousal Declaration.

Finally, it is important to remember that while most ownership transactions can be completed online through Service Ontario, transferring the ownership of a vehicle of the decedent requires that the transferor attends in person at a Service Ontario branch.

Before selling a motor vehicle, here are some things to be aware of:

  1. Liabilities: Be aware of any potential liabilities or outstanding debts associated with the car, such as outstanding loans or unpaid traffic tickets, which must be settled before the car can be transferred to a new owner.
  2. Vehicle condition: Be aware of the condition of the car, including any repairs that may be necessary, as this can impact the sale price.
  3. Market value: Research the market value of the car to determine a fair selling price, using online used car pricing guides, consulting with a professional appraiser, or referring to local classified ads or online marketplaces.
  4. Tax implications: Consider the tax implications of the sale, including any capital gains tax that may be owed on the difference between the sale price and the car's tax basis.
  5. Selling options: Consider different options for selling the car, including private sale, trade-in, or auction, and choose the option that best meets the needs of the estate.
  6. Proper documentation: Make sure that all necessary documentation is provided to the buyer, including the title, registration, and bill of sale. In Ontario, you will also need to provide a safety certificate, which certifies that the car meets all safety standards, and a Drive Clean certificate, which certifies that the car meets Ontario's emissions standards.

How to transfer title ownership of a car when someone dies in Ontario

Once all of the necessary documents have been gathered, the estate trustee is ready to have ownership of the vehicle transferred to a different party. That may be a dealership, private buyer, or a beneficiary as outlined in the will.

If the deceased had a will

In the event the loved one passed away testate and you have all of the above documents on hand, transferring ownership to a buyer or beneficiary is straightforward.

Private sale

Once you have transferred ownership to you as the executor by visiting a Service Ontario branch, you’ll also need a Used Vehicle Information Package (UVIP). This can be purchased from Service Ontario for $20.

The UVIP contains the following:

  • Vehicle details
  • Registration History
  • Record of any liens are on the vehicle
  • Average wholesale valuation
  • Retail tax info
  • Condition of vehicle
  • Bill of sale portion

So long as you are not selling/transferring the vehicle to a spouse, a Safety Standards Certificate from a licensed mechanic is also required.

Upon purchasing a UVIP, these are the steps you need to take to properly document the sale:

  1. Present the UVIP to the buyer.
  2. Fill out the bill of sale portion, including the buyer’s name, signature, date, and sale price.
  3. Sign the transfer portion of the package.
  4. Retain your license plates and the plate portion of your ownership paper.
  5. Finally, properly notify the Ministry of Transportation your vehicle has been sold. To do this, bring the signed documentation to a Service Ontario location to change the vehicle’s status to ‘sold’.

Family or beneficiary transfer

In contrast to private sales, transferring ownership to a family member does not incur Retail Sales Tax (RST), as the transfer counts as a gift.

To transfer ownership to a family member that is not a beneficiary, you will require the following:

After these have been collected and filled out, find your nearest Service Ontario location.

When transferring to a beneficiary the same documents will be required, as well as a copy of the will, death certificate, and certificate of appointment of estate trustee.

If the deceased did not have a will

When a person dies without a will in Ontario, it can make the probate process more complicated. Registering a vehicle in this situation is no exception.

To transfer an estate vehicle from an intestate vehicle, here’s what you need:

  1. A letter of opinion from a lawyer saying that there is no will for the previous owner of the vehicle.
  2. A completed application for vehicle transfer. This is located on the back of the permit/ownership paper that currently says "Fit" or "TMP". The ownership paper must be signed by the sole beneficiary or estate trustee, and they must write "title" after their signature. If there is no Sole Beneficiary, a Court-appointed administrator must sign the ownership paper and write "title" after their signature.
  3. Proof of Ontario insurance for the vehicle in the recipient's name.
  4. A safety standards certificate, if you want to put license plates on the vehicle. This certificate proves that the vehicle is safe to drive on the road.
  5. Valid identification, like a passport or Ontario driver's license. You can find a full list of acceptable IDs on the Ontario government's website.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the process for transferring ownership of a vehicle when a will was not in place is nearly the same. Rather than the assets being distributed according to a will, they will be distributed according to Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act.

Once a suitable estate trustee has been found and appointed, and the vehicle has been transferred to the executor (if a sale or non-beneficiary transfer is occurring), the steps are the same.

If the ownership of the vehicle is to be transferred to a beneficiary as per the applicable statutes, following the above steps similar to if a will was in place, will provide the same result. Note that a certificate of estate trustee without a will is required.

Need a hand?

Feeling overwhelmed by all the forms, regulations, and time it will take to transfer ownership of a loved one’s vehicle? We’re here to help.

With decades of professional experience in wills & estates law, executor services, estate accounting, and more, ClearEstate’s team of professionals can ensure your ownership transfer goes smoothly. Interested? Book a free consultation with us today.

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