Joint Ownership of Car Title

Two Young Man Shaking Hands After Co-Signing a Car TitleTwo Young Man Shaking Hands After Co-Signing a Car Title

If two people decide to buy a vehicle together then it is possible to have joint ownership of the car title instead of only one owner. There are some other circumstances where it is beneficial to have joint ownership of a car title. We will explain these below, along with details of how to arrange joint ownership of a car title and what happens in the event of one owner dying.

What Does It Mean to Be a Co-owner?

A co-owner of a vehicle is someone who part owns a vehicle with another person. Being a joint owner on the certificate of title means you are a legal entity for the vehicle. It can be a good solution for people who want to share a motor vehicle and can only afford it together or where a vehicle is shared within a family.

However, joint ownership can cause some complications in the event of getting insurance, selling the vehicle, or if one of the owners dies. Some states allow joint tenancy, tenancy in common, or tenancy in entirety for situations where there are co-owners of a vehicle.

Usually, joint ownership will be set up with family members, but there are situations where business partners may have joint ownership, which can be more complicated.

Why Should You Opt for Joint Ownership of Car Title?

There are a few different reasons that it may be a good option to have a car title document in joint ownership.

One of the main benefits of the joint tenancy legal status compared to other options is that if one of the co-owners dies, the ownership passes onto the surviving owner. In some states, this only applies if the co-owners are married, so you would need to check the specific rules for your state.

Adding a Co-Owner to Avoid Probate

When a motor vehicle is used by more than one person but only owned by one person, if the owner dies, the ownership would usually have to go through probate. This would usually mean that the process to transfer ownership will take a long time while the legal processes are followed, such as providing the death certificate.

While waiting for the probate, nobody would be authorized to renew tags and any other MVD function until the ownership is eventually transferred.

In the case of joint ownership, the vehicle ownership would simply be passed to the surviving co-owner and they would be able to complete any DMV actions related to the vehicle.

How to Transfer Joint Ownership After One Owner Dies

In the event of the death of one of the co-owners, the surviving owner will need to arrange for the title to be transferred solely into their name.

This can be arranged by completing forms at the DMV and providing the death certificate to the DMV. However, in Florida for example, transferring the title when someone dies can be also carried out online through service providers like Swift-tags.

Co-Owner of Car Rights

Under the joint tenancy ownership option, both co-owners have the authority to transfer ownership and license plates. Under the tenancy in common agreement, signatures from both legal entities would be required to transfer ownership or license plates.

The Pros and Cons of Co-Owning a Car

There are many pros and cons of co-owning a car, and joint tenants can be the easier option to avoid probate and make it easier to transfer ownership when the owner dies.

However, joint ownership can cause complexities with who is responsible for selling a vehicle or arranging DMV paperwork, for example.

It can also confuse matters regarding an accident or missing the payment on car finance. Additionally, if a younger driver is added as a co-owner, this may increase the insurance premiums for the vehicle.

Understanding Joint Tenancy Agreement

Joint tenancy is where the car title listed the owners as owner 1name OR owner name, whereas tenancy in common is owner name AND owner name. The rules vary slightly in different states, for example, in Kentucky, the ownership only passes to the surviving co-owner if the co-owners were married.

You should check what the specific rules are in your state to check with joint ownership is the right option for you and which out of the three ownership options is most suitable.

Swift-tags: A Leading US Online Platform for Title Transfer

If you need to transfer vehicle title or replace your titles, Swift-tags is a fast and easy way to complete these otherwise time-consuming processes. As a plus, you can use all of the services through our website using a desktop, laptop, mobile or any other online device and receive expert support from our customer support team.


1. Can two people buy a car together?

Yes, as long as the financial service provider for a car finance deal allows two people to buy a car together.

2. What happens if a co-owner dies?

If a co-owner of a vehicle dies, what happens next will depend on the type of joint ownership option in place. If the co-owners have a joint tenancy, the vehicle will usually be passed onto the surviving owner but this varies in some states. If the vehicle ownership is a tenancy in common, then it becomes more complicated as the vehicle will need to go through probate. With a tenancy, which is for married couples, both owners are treated as the main owner. So, in the event of one owner dying, the vehicle belongs to the surviving owner without being counted as part of the estate.

3. What are the main drawbacks of joint ownership of a car?

Overall, there are not many disadvantages to having joint ownership of a car. If a family wants to avoid the complications of the car going through probate, joint ownership is usually a good option. The key disadvantages to be aware of are complications that might arise in the event of an accident, setting up insurance, or completing DMV requirements. If a younger driver is added as a joint owner then this could also increase the insurance premiums, provided that the insurer is happy to add the younger driver onto the policy. If the co-owners live at the same address, this will usually make it easier to insure the vehicle jointly and make any changes to the policy.

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