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Tuscarawas County
Clerk of Courts - Title Division

Surviving Spouse

 

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Surviving Spouses, Right of Survivorship, Transfer on Death, Trusts and Estates

SURVIVING SPOUSE

A surviving spouse may transfer an unlimited number of automobiles and one boat and one outboard motor upon the death of their spouse.  The combined approximate value  may not exceed $65,000.  The surviving spouse should present the original Ohio certificates of title, certified copy of the death certificate, an application for a certificate of title, and a surviving spouse affidavit that states that the automobiles and boat or outboard motor are not otherwise disposed of by a will or testament, for each vehicle, boat or outboard motor being transferred.  The affidavit must also include a complete description of each automobile, boat or outboard motor being transferred.  If multiple cars are being transferred, the affidavits must contain the approximate value of the automobile(s).  This affidavit form can be obtained from the Clerk of Courts’ Title Office or your attorney.  Ask for the affidavit pertaining to the Ohio Revised Code Section 2106.18 or surviving spouse affidavit.   After the title is transferred into the surviving spouse’s name, the surviving spouse should go to a deputy registrars office to have the license plate registration transferred into their name.

RIGHT OF SURVIVORSHIP

Titles to motor vehicles and/or watercrafts may be placed in joint tendency with right of survivorship.  The owner's names on the title are to be shown as John Doe and Mary Smith, WROS.  To transfer ownership, signatures of both parties are required if both are living.  If one of the parties is deceased, the survivor applies for a certificate of title in their name.  There is no assignment necessary.  A completed application for title, signed by the survivor, is needed along with a certified copy of the death certificate.

TRANSFER ON DEATH

House Bill 345, which became effective on July 23, 2002, allows sole owners of motor vehicles, watercrafts and outboard motors to designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries on their titles. This includes ATV’s, Off-Road Motorcycles, Personal Watercrafts, Motor Homes and Manufactured or Mobile Homes.  The owner retains sole interest in the motor vehicles, watercrafts and outboard motors titled in their name but the new law allows the certificates of title to be transferred to the beneficiary or beneficiaries upon the death of the owner.  This law does not apply to companies, corporations, trusts, banks, licensed dealers or titles which have more than one owner.

In order to have this "Transfer on Death" designation made on a title, the sole owner must present his or her certificates of title to a clerk of courts’ title office with a completed "Affidavit for Designation of a Beneficiary or Beneficiaries".  The affidavit requires the beneficiary or beneficiaries' name, address, SSN and date of birth.  The clerk of courts will issue a new certificate of title showing the "TOD" designation. The first beneficiary will show under the owner's name as a "TOD" beneficiary; however, the beneficiary has no ownership claim to the motor vehicle, watercraft or outboard motor as long as the sole owner is alive.  If the sole owner designates multiple beneficiaries, the number of additional beneficiaries will appear on the title; however, their names will not appear.  The additional beneficiaries names will be carried in the clerk of courts' data base.  The sole owner can change the designation at any time by following the same procedure.  This can be done simultaneously with a normal transfer of ownership or on an existing certificate of title in the name of the sole owner.

TRUSTS

A motor vehicle and/or watercraft may be in the name of a family trust.  The name of the Family Trust, not the names of the trustees, appears on the Ohio Certificate of Title.  A copy of the trust may be required when transferring ownership.  You should consult an attorney or trust consultant prior to placing a motor vehicle and/or watercraft into a family trust.  You should also contact a deputy registrar to find out what documentation is required and who must sign for the license plates for the motor vehicle.  Your attorney or tax consultant should advise you on matters of Family Trust and how they relate to probating an estate and estate taxes.

WHEN THERE'S A WILL AND/OR AN ESTATE

When there is an estate involved and a will is probated through the Courts, the Executor appointed will act for the transfer of ownership of the vehicle(s) and/or watercraft.  The Executor will have a copy of the court executed document showing the appointment of Executor (Letters of Authority).  The Executor should give the properly assigned Ohio title and a certified copy of the appointment of the Executor to the heir or the buyer.  The heir or the buyer can then take the Ohio certificate of title and the certified copy of the appointment paper to the Clerk of Courts’ Title Office to obtain a certificate of title in their name(s).  The heir or the buyer must make application for an Ohio certificate of title within 30 days of the assignment of the Ohio title.  Your attorney can aid you in obtaining the correct probate documents.

WHEN THERE IS NO WILL OR ESTATE

When there is no will and the assets of the estate are $35,000 or less, or the assets are $100,000 or less and the surviving spouse is entitled to all of the assets, an heir or their attorney should go to the Probate Court to get a "Relief of Administration".  When the Probate Court approves a "Relief of Administration," the heir should take a certified copy of the release form (noting complete description of the vehicle and/or watercraft and transferee name) and the original Ohio certificate of title to the Clerk of Courts’ Title Office for transfer of ownership.

MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION ON PROBATE

Owners of out of state titled motor vehicles must have the vehicle inspected for serial number verification.  This inspection can be done at any deputy registrars office or many car dealerships.  Contact the Clerk of Courts’ Title Office to see what laws may apply if the title or estate is from out of state.

If a duplicate title is needed, the administrator, commissioner, executor or executrix of the estate may sign the application by presenting the letter of appointment.

It is not necessary for a Surviving spouse to obtain a duplicate title if the original certificate of title cannot be found.  The certificate of title may be transferred to the surviving spouse from the records if a surviving spouse affidavit and an application for title is presented.

When a certificate of title has only been assigned to a person who passes away prior to titling the motor vehicle and/or watercraft and it is being probated, you may transfer it into the deceased person's estate with presentation of a letter of appointment or an order to transfer.  If the motor vehicle and/or watercraft was purchased, sales tax must be collected.  If the estate is not being probated, a court order (Relief from Administration) is needed to issue a certificate of title.

When the owner of a motor vehicle is deceased and the vehicle has not been probated when the license plate registration expires, the Executor or Administrator of the estate can perform a ONE-TIME RENEWAL REGISTRATION for the deceased.  The Executor or Administrator needs to present proper documentation of their appointment to a deputy registrar, use their social security number and sign the financial responsibility forms along with the application for registration.

Please contact the Clerk of Courts’ Title Office when there is a lien noted on the certificate of title to see what additional paperwork may be necessary for your transaction.  It may be necessary to obtain the lien holders permission for the transaction and obtain a copy of the security agreement.

In a time of grief, we want you to know that we understand and can relate to your feelings.  We want to be able to easily assist you in the transfer of ownership of the motor vehicles or watercraft.

 
 

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