Removing a name from a car title is a bit different if a lienholder is also listed on the title. In this case, you have a few options.
If you can pay off your loan in full to the lender, you’ll be able to get a lien release and proceed without their input.
If paying off your car loan isn’t possible, you’ll need the lienholder’s permission to change the certificate of title.
If the lienholder won’t agree to make a change, you won’t be allowed to remove the desired name from the title.
Things to watch out for when taking a name off a car title
During this process, any errors or legibility issues may cause the DMV to reject your application.
Some states require signatures to be notarized (with a notary present) when changing or removing names from a title. Check with your state DMV about this step.
Other states require that the transfer be completed in person at the DMV. You may need to make an appointment in this case—be sure to bring your driver’s license and the vehicle registration.
Sometimes, the reason a name is being taken off a title impacts the process.
In cases such as a divorce, any title change must match the divorce agreement.
If your ex-spouse gets full ownership of a formerly shared car, this must be reflected in the title. In this case, you would sign as the "seller," and your ex-spouse would sign as "buyer," putting the car’s title in their possession.
Most states charge a sales tax on any car title changes. However, some states will waive the tax if a divorce order accompanies the application for title change.
Check with your DMV about title fees when transferring ownership.
If you’re gifting a car—say to another family member—the process is straightforward. The gifter would sign the back of the title as the "seller," and the receiver would sign as the "buyer" with the sale price listed as $0.
Changing title to show a charitable donation
Removing your name from the title is the same if you’re donating the car to charity.
In this case, you would sign the back of the title certificate as "seller." The charitable organization, or a representative of it, would sign the title as "buyer", with a sale price of $0.
At this point, it’s the charity’s responsibility to complete the rest of the title process, including taking the title to the department of motor vehicles to finalize the transfer.
There are a few options to remove a deceased person from a car title. It may be a good idea to hire a probate lawyer to make sure the transfer of ownership is carried out properly.