How to sell a deceased person’s car

One of the hardest tasks for a person who has lost someone is to decide what to do with their personal effects. The decision on what to do with sentimental and cherished items can be difficult.

Selling a car belonging to a deceased person can also be logistically challenging. In this guide, we will cover the key factors that you should consider, such as:

Finally, we’ll highlight the various avenues for selling a deceased person’s car.

What to consider when selling a deceased person’s car

Legal entitlement

If you would like to transfer or sell the vehicle, you must have a copy of the Death Certificate – and legal proof that you are entitled to handle the car on behalf of their estate. (Proof of legal entitlement may be the last will, a solicitor’s letter or another legal document.)

Insurance coverage

Car insurance policies are usually terminated when the main policyholder dies. You cannot drive a car without insurance under any circumstances.

If the car was insured in the deceased person’s name, you will need to contact their insurer and inform them that they have passed away. From here, the insurer should be able to arrange a new policy in your name.

If you don’t know the name of the provider the deceased was insured with, refer to our guide ‘Can’t remember your car insurance company? How to find out’.

Your relationship to the deceased

Your relationship to the deceased will affect what you are legally entitled to do with their car. For instance, a spouse will have different legal entitlements than a friend.

If you are uncertain about your legal entitlements, it is best to contact a legal expert, such as the solicitor handling the deceased’s estate. They should be able to provide you with any pertinent information on this matter.

Notifying the DVLA after the car’s owner has died

If a deceased person has left you a car, you will need to contact the DVLA to inform them they have passed away. This enables the DVLA to cancel their driving licence, remove them as the registered owner of the vehicle – and cancel the vehicle’s road tax. You can notify the DVLA directly or through the Government’s ‘Tell Us Once’ service, (which will also inform other relevant organisations such as the Passport Office, HM Revenue and Customs – and the local council of the deceased.)

Checking for outstanding finance

It is also important to check whether the car has outstanding finance. If it does, this debt must be settled before the car is sold. In this case, you should contact the finance provider and show them the proof of death and your relationship with the deceased. UK law states that debts are resolved post-mortem - and these are paid by the state. The only time this isn’t the case is when there is a co-signer who will have to resolve the debt.

Estate planning: Why is it important?

Estate planning ensures that your family will be taken care of financially once you pass away. If this is not in place, your family may have to deal with expensive legal proceedings.

Determining ownership and liens

If someone else owned the deceased person’s vehicle, you will need to have written permission from them to transfer it into your own name.

In some circumstances, the deceased person may be a car’s registered keeper but not the owner. To learn about the distinction between these two titles, visit our guide ‘Registered keeper vs. owner of a car explained’.

Getting a valuation

Getting a valuation for the deceased’s car can give you a clear understanding of its market value, allowing you to price it realistically.

Enter the reg number into our free car valuation tool. You’ll get a quote in less than 30 seconds, enabling you to focus on what’s important.

Selling a car on probate

'Probate’ in England and Wales refers to the legal and financial procedures associated with sorting the assets, finances, and possessions of the person who has passed away.

A probate verifies the last will of the person who has passed. It will also help establish the rightful authority of another person to sort their estate. As such, you will need to obtain legal proof that you are authorised to sell the vehicle.

What is a probate grant and why do I need one?

A probate grant is a legally binding document that is required for an executor to gain access to the account of the deceased person, take ownership of their goods and chattels - and settle any outstanding debts.

Transferring ownership with a V5C logbook

  • A V5C logbook (also known as the ‘logbook’) plays an important role in the process of transferring vehicle ownership.

  • If you want to sell a vehicle that you have inherited, you’ll need to fill in Section 2 of the V5C logbook. (You will need to complete Section 6 if you have an old V5C logbook.)

  • You’ll need to keep the green ‘New Keeper’ slip when transferring ownership.

  • You should also write a letter to the DVLA to tell them someone has died. This letter must include details of your relationship to the deceased, the date they passed away – and the details of the person who will receive the road tax refund.

  • Post this letter, along with the V5C logbook to: DVLA Sensitive Casework Team, Swansea, SA99 1ZZ.

  • Do not send the ‘New Keeper’ slip. You should retain this yourself.

What to do if the V5C logbook is missing

  • If you are transferring ownership of a deceased person’s car and don’t have the V5C logbook, you’ll have to complete a V62 form to request a replacement copy.

  • You should also write a letter explaining your relationship to the deceased, the date they died, the name of the road tax refund recipient (if applicable) and the full details of the person to whom you wish to transfer ownership (including their name and address).

  • Post the letter, V62 form and a cheque or postal order for £25 to: DVLA Sensitive Casework Team, Swansea, SA99 1ZZ.

  • The DVLA will cancel any existing road tax and direct debits - and send you a replacement V5C. You can then use this document to tax the vehicle.

What are my options for selling a deceased person’s car?

There are several avenues for selling a deceased person’s car, including selling the car privately, to a dealership – or to a car buying service. We’ll cover how they each work below:

Selling to a private buyer

Firstly, you’ll need to write to the DVLA’s Sensitive Casework team. Your letter should include the following information:

  • Your relationship to the deceased.

  • The day they died.

  • Who should receive any road tax refunds.

Send the letter to the following address: DVLA Sensitive Casework Team, Swansea, SA99 1ZZ.

Once the DVLA has confirmed your ownership, you’ll need to fill out Section 2 of the V5C logbook and give the New Keeper slip to the private buyer.

Private selling tips

  • When selling a car on the private market, listing it on free car advertising websites can be an effective way to draw in prospective buyers. Just bear in mind that you’ll need to clear time in your schedule for viewings.

  • Prospective buyers may want to test drive the car, so make sure you have valid insurance in place.

Selling to a dealer

  • If you want to sell or part-exchange the deceased person’s car at a dealership, you should ask the dealer to fill out the ‘Sell, transfer or part-exchange your vehicle to the motor trade’ section of the V5C logbook.

  • Next, you’ll have to inform the DVLA’s Sensitive Casework team, (and then the car dealer will retain the rest of the V5C logbook).

  • When selling to a dealer, if the car’s value is below £10,000, the dealer may make the payment directly to you.

  • However, if the value is higher than £10,000, the dealer might decide to probate authorisation from the estate’s solicitor to proceed with the sale.

  • They may request to see the Death Certificate of the deceased individual, confirmation from the solicitor overseeing the estate, permission for the car’s sale - and photo identification for the next of kin.

Selling to webuyanycar

Selling privately or at a dealership can be challenging. If you take the private route, there’s no guarantee you’ll find a suitable buyer – and some dealerships may reject the car if it falls short of their requirements.

Selling the car to webuyanycar is a convenient option that avoids these pitfalls. We can buy your car regardless of its age and condition, allowing you to focus on other important matters. Here’s how it works:

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to bring some additional documentation to your appointment to complete the sale.

To make things clearer, we’ve created a flowchart outlining the process of selling a car belonging to a deceased person:

Are you able to provide a copy of the Death Certificate?

(We can also accept a copy of an Interim Death Certificate or Coroners Certificate if the Death Certificate has not yet been issued)

Is the value of the deceased's estate less than £10k? 1

We're sorry, we won’t be able to proceed without a copy of the Death Certificate.

We can buy the car and pay the next of kin. Documents required:

  • Death certificate
  • Photo ID (Passport/Driver’s License) for Next of Kin
  • Proof of Next of Kin account details (Bank statement/Bank card)
  • We will also require the Next of Kin to complete a declaration form at the point of sale

Has Probate2 / Confirmation3 been granted?

We can buy the car from Executor named on the Grant/ Confirmation document. Documents required:

  • Death certificate
  • Photo ID and proof of address for the executor
  • Grant of Probate/Confirmation document
  • Payment is to be paid into the account used to manage the deceased’s estate so proof of the account details will be required

Is a Solicitor managing the Estate?

We will require a letter or email from the Estate’s Solicitor granting permission for the vehicle to be sold and confirming who payment should be released to. Documents required:

  • Death certificate
  • Photo ID (passport/driving licence) for the person bringing the car to branch for sale
  • Written authority from the solicitor (letter/e-mail) advising that the vehicle can be sold. The letter should also include instructions on where the payment should be made to (full account details)

Sometimes, a family prefers to manage the estate themselves, instead of instructing a solicitor to act on their behalf.

We can still buy the car however to aid the company, if you can provide a copy of the last Will and Testament, with written confirmation from the solicitors that drafted the will that the copy is the last known version, we can proceed with a payment to the Executor named on the Will. Documents required:

  • Death certificate
  • Photo ID (passport/driving licence) for the person bringing the car to branch for sale
  • Copy of the last known Will/Testament
  • Written confirmation from the solicitors that drafted the will, that the copy is the last known version.

This information together with the notes below are for guidance only. Please ensure you consult with professional advisors who will help you understand the steps required in order to be able to sell a deceased person's car or van. You must have the right to sell the car.

  1. The estate is the total amount in £s which has been left by the deceased car owner before it is distributed.
  2. 'Probate' is the English law court process by which a Will is proved valid or invalid. It also describes the legal process wherein the estate of a deceased is administered.
  3. In Scotland the 'Confirmation' is a legal document from the court giving the executor(s) authority to uplift any money or other property belonging to a deceased person from the holder (such as the bank), and to administer and distribute it according to law. An application is lodged with the sheriff court.

For further information issued by the Government click here.

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