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What To Do If You’ve Inherited A Car With A Lien

  • 3 min read

If you’ve inherited a car with a lien, navigating the lien release process may seem daunting, but it’s an essential step in transferring ownership of the vehicle. A lien release is necessary to remove any outstanding financial claims against the vehicle, allowing you to transfer ownership and avoid any legal or financial issues down the line. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the lien release process for an inherited vehicle with a lien.

Step 1: Obtain the Vehicle Title

The first step in the process is to obtain the vehicle title, which proves ownership of the vehicle. If the vehicle was inherited, the title might need to be transferred into your name through probate. Contact the DMV or a legal advisor to determine the requirements for transferring the title into your name. If the title is already in your name, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Check for Existing Liens

Once you have the title, you should check to see any existing liens on the vehicle. The easiest way to tell if a vehicle has a lien is to look for the lienholder printed on the front of the title. If you need clarification on the lien status, contact the DMV to verify there are no outstanding liens. If there is an outstanding lien, it must be released before you can take ownership of the vehicle.

Step 3: Request a Lien Release

To request a lien release, you must contact the lender or creditor who holds the lien. Be sure to provide documentation proving your vehicle ownership, such as a death certificate or a copy of the will. Once the lender or creditor receives the necessary documents, they should begin releasing the lien. 

Step 4: Obtain the Lien Release

After the lender or creditor releases the lien, they will provide you with documentation proving the lien has been released. Typically this documentation is a lien release letter or letter of non-interest. Depending on your jurisdiction, your lender may be required to submit a state-specific document to file with the DMV. 

Step 5: Transfer Ownership

Once the lien has been released, you can transfer vehicle ownership. You may need to complete a bill of sale or other paperwork, depending on the requirements of your state or the DMV. Keep copies of all documentation related to the lien release and ownership transfer, as these documents may be needed again.

Inheriting a car with a lien can be a stressful experience, but by following these steps, you can successfully navigate the lien release process and transfer ownership of the vehicle. If you need help with how to proceed, consider consulting with a title recovery service or a legal advisor. This information is not legal advice. With patience and perseverance, you can obtain a lien release and enjoy full ownership of your inherited vehicle.