What YOU need to know about PERFECTING your Car Title.


“How perfecting your Auto Title saves you Time, Money and Aggravation.” by Sarah Lee Marks, MyCarlady.

Important things to do when you get your Car Title.

When the title shows up with the lien release letter attached, DON’T just shove it back in the envelope and into the safe deposit box.

Here are the 3 IMPORTANT steps you MUST take to perfect the title, avoiding costly, time consuming hassles later.

1. Decide who should be named as the owner of the vehicle; You AND Someone else, YOU OR someone else, YOU (as a trustee) and YOUR TRUST or BUSINESS with the owners name.

If this decision results in something different than what is currently on the title, you will need to do a bill of sale between the current owner (you) and the new owner(s).   This may result in a change of vehicle registration and or insurance, so carefully think this through before proceeding to step 2. If it is the same name without the lien-holder, the DMV should not request anything from you but proof of identity and money.

2. Take the title and if necessary (see Step 1.), Bill of Sale, Copies of the front and last (Signature) pages of the trust or business ownership document reflecting signing authority for the business, to your local DMV office.

3. Have your local DMV produce a title in the new format, removing the lien-holder from the original title.

Check the DMV transaction paperwork for errors BEFORE leaving the DMV counter. Note addresses for mailing are correct because TITLES are not Forwarded, they are returned to the sender and you may never get it. It will take 4-6 weeks to receive your new title.

4. When the NEW title arrives, check it for errors, make a photo copy for your file and place the original with your trust documents, or other important papers, in a fire-proof location.


1.If the title is ever lost and the lien-holder has not been removed from the DMV records, you will required to produce proof of payoff from the original lien-holder, followed by a possible week/months lien search of other states, before DMV will issue a duplicate. This can kill a private party car deal or worse cost thousands in legal fees to remedy.

2. If the title was/is issued in another state, lost or possibly not in your name (an inheritance), you will be required to obtain the title in the original name from the original state with a lien-holder release letter, before you will be allowed to convey the vehicle title into your name (or new ownership) in your home state.

This out-of-state effort could include having to appear personally in the original state with notarized documents regarding probate, vehicle value, emissions-VIN inspections or court-order.

3. A divorce, death, trust or probate could further complicate the transfer or sale of the vehicle, depending on the state.

No state will produce a duplicate title on a bill of sale only.

SHOULD you EVER put a car in a trust?

I have asked my friend and go-to Estate & Probate expert: Attorney Laura E. Stubberud for her clear, concise opinion on this question.

“The first and most important step is to have adequate insurance on the vehicle, as trusts do not protect from liability.There are multiple considerations for when to place a vehicle in a trust.These include: if you are single, if the vehicle is worth more than $25,000.00, and the value of the estate. When it is an expensive vehicle, collectible, antique or something heirs will fight over with a value in excess of the $25,000.00, putting the car title in the trust name, and designating the recipient in writing make the paperwork processing at time of conveyance easier on the recipient and the successor trustee selling the vehicle for the trust.

Why? The trust documents clearly support the intention of the original owner and eliminate the need to go to court to transfer the asset.
If you pay cash you can take title in the name of the trust at the time of purchase. If you own your vehicle outright, you must re-title it at the local DMV if you want to put it into your trust.” – Laura E. Stubberud, Attorney at Law.
If you have any other questions regarding this information please feel free to reach out to Laura at her office: 702-625-9260.

Would you like to receive notice of other timely automotive tips?

Sign-up below to receive Sarah Lee’s “Not very often and never annoying” email newsletter.

Your Name*

Your Email*


Your Message*