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How Do I Cancel a Loved One’s Driver’s License?

July 14, 2021
David Parker, Esq.
NFT's and estate planning
David Parker, White Plains and New City NY Estate Planning Attorney
David Parker, Esq.
David Parker is an attorney who specializes in Estate Planning and Elder Law and has been practicing law for 30 years. Be it Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxies, or Medicaid Planning, David provides comprehensive and caring counsel for seniors and their families. A large portion of David’s practice is asset protection strategies so that families do not lose their hard earned savings to nursing home care costs. He also handles probate administration for the settlement of estates.
Losing a loved one can be difficult and overwhelming. The emotional toll is steep, and several time-consuming details need to be addressed. Even if the loved one left a detailed plan, it is not uncommon to miss a few things that must be handled.

In addition to canceling cards, insurance policies and automatic payments after a family member dies, it is important to cancel identification cards, like a loved one’s driver’s license. Bankrate’s recent article entitled “How to terminate a license after death” provides some valuable tips on closing out things for a loved one after they pass away.

Every state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has rules about how it issues and cancels a driver’s license. In some states, you may not need to cancel a license because Vital Records will inform the DMV of the license holder’s death, and the license will be canceled automatically. If a state requires you to cancel the license, obtain the death certificate and contact the DMV for the specific procedure. Many states permit the canceling of a deceased’s driver’s license by mail. Typically, you need to send a letter saying you would like to cancel the deceased driver’s license; a notarized or certified copy of the death certificate; and the original driver’s license.

You can cancel a driver’s license to prevent identity theft. In addition, other items should be cancelled to make certain that personal information does not get into the wrong hands. Here are a few other vehicle-related items that should also be canceled or transferred.

Car title. Transfer the title, if you want to sell the car in the future or if you want to keep driving the vehicle. You will need to visit the DMV with the death certificate and the original title certificate to transfer the title. There may also be a state affidavit form certifying there is no probate before the vehicle title may be legally transferred.

Car registration. When the car title transfer is complete and the vehicle’s in your name, you can register it. Get car insurance before registering the vehicle.

License plates and handicap placards. The plates of the vehicle should be surrendered to the DMV with the driver’s license and a certified or notarized copy of the death certificate and a cover letter. If you return the deceased person’s driver’s license and the vehicle’s license plates, you could also send the handicap placard back to the DMV.

Car insurance. Call the insurance company to cancel auto insurance. The insurer may ask for a copy of the death certificate before canceling the policy.

Car loans or leases. A car loan is not forgiven upon death, and the balance will have to be settled from the estate’s funds. You might be able to take over the lease or loan, if you contact the lender with documentation showing you are the beneficiary, but this depends on the lender and state laws.

Reference: Bankrate (June 16, 2021) “How to terminate a license after death”


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