How to Transfer Car Ownership from a Deceased Owner

When a family member passes away, it can be hard to cope with the loss and sort out their affairs. One of the things that you may need to do is transfer the ownership of a motor vehicle that belonged to the deceased to one of the heirs. This involves not only legal procedures but also emotional aspects, as the vehicle may be a cherished possession or a useful asset for the family. In this article, we will guide you through the steps, documents, fees, and settlements that you need to complete this transaction with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in the Philippines. This guide is applicable to vehicles left by the deceased, including SUVs, motorcycles, and cars.

Will or No Will?

When a family member passes away (decedent), their property becomes part of their estate immediately. The estate includes everything they own, such as real estate, personal belongings, and, in this case, vehicles. The estate has to be distributed among the heirs, who are the rightful beneficiaries of the property. The distribution depends on whether the deceased left a will or not.

If the deceased had a will, the process would be simpler. The will specifies how the property should be divided among the heirs. The deceased is called a testate in this case. If the deceased did not have a will (intestate), the process is more complicated. The heirs have to settle the estate among themselves, either through an extrajudicial or a judicial settlement. This can be problematic if the estate includes vehicles that cannot be easily split, especially if the deceased had multiple children, whether legitimate or illegitimate.

Writing a will is not a common practice among the general population. Therefore, in this article, we will assume that the decedent did not leave behind a will and that the asset in question is a car.

Requirements in Transferring Ownership of Vehicle from Deceased Owner

Before you go to the LTO to transfer ownership of the vehicle, you have to secure the documents first. Here is the list of LTO’s requirements to transfer ownership of a car from a deceased person to his or her legal heir:

1. Affidavit of Sole Adjudication or Deed of Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate

If you are the sole heir, you should consult with a lawyer and execute an Affidavit of Sole Adjudication. However, if there are multiple heirs, the process is slightly different. The heirs need to discuss among themselves and agree on the terms of the estate settlement. Once an agreement is reached, they should sign a Deed of Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate. This deed will then be filed with the courts for further processing.

You need to present the following to the lawyer:

  • Certificate of Registration
  • Official Receipt of MVUC
  • Death Certificate of the decedent
  • Valid ID of the heirs
  • Special Power of Attorney if processing through a representative

2. Affidavit of publication of the deed

Upon execution, the deed of extrajudicial settlement must be published in a newspaper of general circulation. This is to notify the public about the death of a person and the ongoing settlement of their estate by the heirs. The publication serves as an opportunity for individuals who may have claims against the estate, such as unpaid debts, to object to the extrajudicial settlement and opt for a judicial settlement of estate, which would involve court proceedings.

The publication must occur once a week for three consecutive weeks on the same day each week, be it Sunday, Monday, Friday, or any other day. The chosen newspaper must cater to the general public with local news and information and have subscribers. It cannot be a free newspaper or a newsletter exclusive to an organization, barangay, or municipality. Furthermore, it cannot be solely an online publication; it must be printed and distributed.

Publishing the entire Deed is too costly, so you should only publish the essential information in the Classified Ads section. The important details include the vehicle brand, model, plate number, and the deceased owner’s name. These details are necessary for the car ownership transfer, as the Land Transportation Office (LTO) will verify if they match their records. You can ask the publisher for the most affordable column ad option.

3. PNP-HPG Motor Vehicle Clearance Certificate

This document proves that your vehicle is free of any crime, accident, violation, or theft as of the date of issuance. You can obtain one from the nearest PNP Highway Patrol Group headquarters. You need to bring the following documents to apply for clearance:

  • Original Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate (if survived by two or more heirs) or Affidavit of Sole Adjudication (if there is only one heir) 
  • Original Certificate of Registration 
  • Official Receipt
  • Affidavit of publication of the deed in any newspaper of general circulation for three consecutive weeks
  • Copy of the newspaper where you published the Deed
  • Certified True Copy of the Court Decision (if extrajudicial settlement)

For a more detailed guide on how to get a PNP-HPG MVCC, please follow this guide: How to Get a PNP-HPG Motor Vehicle Clearance Certificate

4. Compulsory Third Party Liability (if the registration is expired)

You can buy CTPL insurance from different providers, but some of them may charge you more than others. For example, the providers near the LTO premises usually sell CTPL insurance for 600 to 1000 pesos. You can try to negotiate with them or look for cheaper alternatives elsewhere. One option is to buy CTPL insurance from Cebuana Lhuillier pawnshop outlets, which offer lower rates than the providers inside the LTO premises.

5. Original Copy of Certificate of Emission Compliance (if the registration is expired)

According to the Clean Air Act (RA 8749), you need to pass an emissions test for your vehicle before you can renew your registration. The test is conducted by a Private Emission Testing Center (PETC) that has LTO accreditation. Your vehicle should not produce harmful emissions that pollute the environment, so you need to keep it in good condition. You can find emission testing facilities near or on-site at many LTO offices, but they may charge more and have long lines. You can look for authorized emission testing centers that are far from an LTO office to save time and money. These centers often have less or no waiting time and lower fees.

How to Transfer Ownership After Death of Owner

To transfer the vehicle’s ownership, you need to complete all the required documents above and go to the LTO District Office. The best option is to do this at the LTO District Office where the vehicle was originally registered, so you can finish the transfer right away. If that is not possible, you can go to the nearest LTO branch and ask for a confirmation of registration, but this may take longer. You can also transfer the registration to any LTO branch if the CR’s mother file is at the LTO main office on East Avenue in Quezon City

STEP 1: Approach the customer service window or the guard on duty and ask them about the first step in transferring ownership. They will gladly assist and give you the list of requirements and a Motor Vehicle Inspection Report (MVIR) form.

STEP 2: Take the Motor Vehicle Inspection Report (MVIR) and a copy of the Certificate of Registration (CR) to an inspection aide outside the LTO office. The aide will check your vehicle for any missing parts, busted lights, or other issues. He will also fill out the MVIR form with the information from your CR. Pay the aide for his service. A fee of 50 pesos is usually enough.

STEP 3: Return to the LTO office and submit the MVIR along with the required documents. The evaluator will verify that your documents are complete and valid. Once verified, he or she will pass them on to the next person for further processing.

STEP 4: Wait for your name or number to be announced. When it is your turn, proceed to the cashier window and pay the transfer fee and any other charges. Then, return to your seat and wait for your name to be called again.

STEP 5: Wait until your name (or the name on the CR) is announced by the releasing counter. Then, collect the updated Certificate of Registration (CR) and the Official Receipt (OR) from them.

Transferring Ownership of Vehicle from Deceased Owner

Here is the total expense for the transfer of ownership/registration from the deceased owner to the legal heir.

Notarial fee₱500.00
Publication fee₱2,500.00
PNP-HPG Clearance₱500.00
Emission Test ₱500.00
LTO Renewal/Processing Fee₱1,600.00

Regarding the quoted amount, it is important to note that it is only an estimate and may vary depending on the source of your insurance and the affidavit of publication.

Additionally, if your registration is still valid, there is no need for renewal, which could result in significant savings for you 


To sum up, transferring car ownership in the Philippines depends on whether the owner is alive or not. If the owner is alive and willing to sell the car, the process is simple and quick. The owner just needs to sign and notarize a Deed of Sale, and let the buyer handle the rest at LTO. However, if the owner is deceased, the process is more complicated and lengthy. The heir or beneficiary of the car needs to secure various documents and clearances before they can claim ownership of the vehicle. Therefore, it is important to know how to transfer a car’s ownership from a deceased owner, especially if you are dealing with a vehicle that belongs to a relative who has passed away.

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