After someone’s death, their personal representative will have the task of disposing of their possessions. For some assets, such as a house, it is necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate or, if the person who died did not leave a Will, a Grant of Letters of Administration. We take a look at whether a grant is needed to sell a car.

If you are dealing with the difficult job of selling assets belonging to a loved one, you may need to know in what order events have to take place.

The first task in winding up an estate is to value everything. This includes property, savings, investments and valuable belongings such as cars, art and jewellery. If the deceased owned a car, you should value it as at the date of death. There are online car valuation tools to help with this.

Once you know the total value of the estate, you will be able to work out whether Inheritance Tax is payable and, if so, how much. This needs to be paid before you can apply for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration.

Selling a car after the owner has died

The process of valuing the estate, calculating and paying Inheritance Tax and obtaining a grant can take months and if the estate included a car, you may want to sell it sooner so that it does not drop in value or deteriorate from not being used. Selling it will also mean that you do not have to pay insurance or worry about where to keep it.

Because a car is classed as a chattel, you are free to sell or transfer it before you receive a grant. Depending on the buyer, you will have to provide certain documentation showing that you have the right to sell the vehicle.

This will usually be:

  • A copy of the death certificate
  • A copy of the deceased’s Will naming you as the executor
  • Your photo identification

Selling the car to a private buyer

If you wish to sell the car to a private buyer, you will need to write to the DVLA Sensitive Casework Team, Swansea SA99 1ZZ. You should tell them your relationship to the deceased, the date of death and who should be paid any road tax refund.

When writing, you should include the relevant section of the V5C logbook. If it is a new-style log book with multi-coloured blocks on the front it is section 2; if it is an older-style log book, it is section 6. The green ‘new keeper’ slip should be given to the buyer. The V5C should be sent to the DVLA.

Selling the car to a motor trader

If you will be selling the vehicle to a car dealer, you should ask them to fill in the yellow ‘sell, transfer or part-exchange your vehicle to the motor trade’ section of the log book.

The perforated section should then be sent to the DVLA Sensitive Casework Team and the rest of the V5C given to the motor trader.

If you do not have the V5C logbook

If you cannot locate the logbook, you need to advise the buyer of this. They will be able to request a new V5C by filling in form V62 and paying £25.

You should also write to the DVLA Sensitive Casework Team advising them of the sale of the vehicle. They will need to know:

  • What date the vehicle was sold on
  • How you are related to the person who has died
  • The date of death
  • Who is to be paid any vehicle tax refund
  • The name and address of the buyer

Transferring the car

If you will be keeping the car, you need to advise DVLA that you are the new keeper. Vehicle tax is not transferrable so you need to tax it in your name straightaway. Both tax and valid insurance must be in place before you drive it on a public road.

If you have the V5C logbook, you should follow the process above for selling the car to a private buyer, using the green ‘new keeper’ slip yourself to tax the vehicle in your name.

If you do not have the V5C logbook, you should fill in form V62 to apply for a replacement, paying the £25 fee. You can use the new logbook to tax the vehicle in your name.

Registering a vehicle as being off the road

If the vehicle will be off the road and not driven, you can apply to the DVLA to register it as such. This is referred to as a statutory off road notification or SORN. You will need to fill in form V890 and send it to the DVLA together with the relevant part of the V5C or, if this is missing, form V62.


If you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at