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Does My Spouse Automatically Inherit My Car When I Die?

Does My Spouse Automatically Inherit My Car When I Die?

The short answer in Ohio is yes. According to Ohio’s BMV website,, your spouse will be entitled to transfer an unlimited number of vehicles in your name under the surviving spouse law, with certain restrictions, even without planning ahead. To transfer the vehicles, your spouse will have to make a trip to the Title Office and apply for a surviving spouse certificate of title. The BMV warns that most Title Offices will require a certified copy of the death certificate, the title, and your ID.

While the above will apply to most Ohio vehicles, there are some vehicles to which this law does not apply. The following is a list of qualification for a vehicle covered under the surviving spouse law:

  • The vehicle/vehicles cannot exceed a total $65,000 in value
  • This may include one boat, one outboard motor and one boat trailer
  • The vehicle/vehicles can be a motorcycle or truck if used for transportation by the deceased spouse or their family during the deceased spouse’s lifetime
  • Commercial vehicles do not qualify
  • Motor Homes do not qualify
  • Recreational vehicles do not qualify

So whether you finally got that “arrest-me-red” sports car after the last kid left the nest, a pick up truck capable of towing Mt. Everest or the latest and greatest in RV technology (complete with home theater and 5 lane bowling alley) you’re going to want to do some planning to insure your spouse won’t be lost in the limbo of probate.

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Dually certified by the National Elder Law Foundation as Certified Elder Law Attorneys and the Ohio State Bar Association as Specialists in the Area of Elder Law.