Owners of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer titled in Virginia may designate a beneficiary to receive ownership of the vehicle upon the death of the last surviving owner. This "transfer on death" title will list the names of the owners, followed by "transfer on death" or "TOD" and the name of the beneficiary. The vehicle owners may add, change or remove a beneficiary at any time.
The signature of the beneficiary is not required for any transaction related to the vehicle while the owner(s) of the vehicle are still alive.
- The beneficiary must be an individual and not a business entity.
- A beneficiary cannot be designated if a lien exists for the vehicle. The beneficiary will be removed if a lien is added to the vehicle.
- A certificate of title with a designated beneficiary will be canceled if the vehicle is sold, traded, or donated
How to Designate a Beneficiary
To add, change, or remove a beneficiary designation, submit a completed "Beneficiary Transaction Request" (VSA 18). The form must be signed by all owners of the vehicle.
Claiming Ownership of the Vehicle
To transfer ownership, the beneficiary must apply for a certificate of title within 120 days of the death of the owner(s) and provide death certificates. Other documents may also be required.
If the beneficiary does not apply for a certificate of title within 120 days of the owners' deaths, they cannot obtain title to the vehicle. If the beneficiary is no longer living, the beneficiary's estate must apply for a certificate of title within 120 days of the owners' deaths. If not the estate cannot obtain title to the vehicle.