If 1 of 2 registered owners on vehicle passes away, does vehicle go tosurvivng ownerby default?

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If 1 of 2 registered owners on vehicle passes away, does vehicle go tosurvivng ownerby default?

If there is co-ownership for example “John Doe or Jane” listed as registered owners on a vehicle and John Doe dies does Jane Doe automatically have full ownership of the vehicle? Also, if Jane Doe and John Doe are divorced and John Doe was granted the vehicle in a divorce but they both remained as registered owners on the vehicle does Jane Doe still automatically own the vehicle when John Doe passes away? Divorce decree lists vehicle as 2000 and vehicle is 2001 and there is no VIN on the divorce decree either. There is no Will.

Asked on March 21, 2011 under Estate Planning, New Mexico

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to review your state's title meaning by contacting the department of motor vehicles and asking if there are title descriptions and implications for you to review. As a general rule of thumb, without issues of divorce, the issue turns on the word "or in your state. This usually means the title is held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship so if one passes, the surviving spouse gets the title to the motor vehicle. Here, upon John Doe's death it would appear Jane Doe now owns the vehicle as the sole title holder. John Doe's ownership is extinguished upon his death. Now if John Doe was granted the vehicle in a divorce decree, then John Doe and Jane Doe were both equally in contempt of the order because Jane Doe remained a registered owner. Nevertheless, it appears this worked out to Jane Doe's benefit because Jane now has sole title. Divorce decree technical issues are not relevant in your situation herein.


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