Montana State University

MSU Extension offers new MontGuide on transferring a Montana vehicle title after the death of an owner

November 16, 2016 -- MSU News Service

MSU Extension offers a new MontGuide detailing how to transfer a Montana vehicle title after the death of an owner.

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN – Montana State University Extension has published a new MontGuide which details how to transfer a Montana vehicle title after the death of an owner.

"After a Montana resident passes away, there are many tasks to be completed to settle his or her estate,” said Marsha Goetting, MSU Extension family economics specialist and co-author of the MontGuide "Transferring a Montana Vehicle Title After the Death of an Owner." “One question family members often ask is, ‘How is the title of a vehicle transferred to the person who inherited it?’"

The newly released MontGuide explains the four steps survivors should follow to transfer the title of a deceased person’s vehicle to the person who inherited it.

According to the MontGuide, family members first need to determine if the vehicle owned by the deceased person is one that requires a title with the Montana Motor Vehicle Division.

"There are very few vehicles that are not (required to be) titled in Montana," said Nancy Hargrove, co-author of the MontGuide and customer support liaison for the Montana MVD. The guide, however, gives detailed information about how to find this information.       

The second step, as listed in the guide, is to find the original title to determine how the vehicle was titled. Was it issued only in the deceased’s name (sole ownership) or were there other owners (joint ownership)?  Was it registered in the name of a trust?  If the vehicle was used in a business, was it registered in the name of the business?

The third step is to determine the legal heir(s) of the vehicle, according to the guide.

"If the deceased person owned the vehicle with another individual, his or her ownership automatically ceases upon death and the survivor becomes the sole owner," said Kendra Seilstad, co-author of the guide and MSU Extension family and consumer science agent in Blaine County.

After the legal heir(s) of the vehicle is determined, the final step is to complete the appropriate paperwork with the Title and Registration Bureau of the MVD, noted Goetting.

According to the MontGuide, the MVD requires specific paperwork, which depends upon how the vehicle was titled and the dollar value of the estate, to transfer title from a deceased owner to a legal heir(s).

"The MontGuide provides processes for common circumstances occurring in Montana," Goetting said.

A copy of “Transferring a Montana Vehicle Title After the death of an Owner” can be obtained at no charge from local county Extension agents or it can be printed for free from the web at

For more information about MSU Extension, see

Contact: Marsha Goetting, MSU Extension Family Economics Specialist,, or 406-994-5695