Morristown, TN asked in Divorce, Estate Planning and Family Law for Tennessee

Q: Does an executor of estate claim an "OR" car title in the state of TN when the person listed as OR is divorced?

My parent's have a car title with that states my father OR my mother. My father is passed away and divorced from my mother before he passed. My dad also payed off the rest of the loan on the Cadillac car in question after they were divorced and before he passed. Since I, the son, am executor of his estate do I have the ownership of the car or does it go to her even though they were divorced?

1 Lawyer Answer
Nina Whitehurst
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: As far as the County Clerk is concerned (that is who handles motor vehicle titles in Tennessee), upon learning of your dad's passing, they will consider your mother to be the owner. That is because it sounds like they never updated the title during the divorce like they (probably) should have.

If the car was awarded to your dad pursuant to the divorce, then that step was missed and the title needs to get caught up. See if you can find the divorce decree that awarded the car to your dad, obtain a certified copy, and deliver the certified copy to the County Clerk. That should convince them to put the title in your dad's name.

Once title is in your dad's name it will become an asset of your dad's probate estate.

If you are already the executor of your dad's estate, then at the same time as you provide the County Clerk with the divorce decree, also provide to them a death certificate and the letters of administration issued to you by the probate court. That should result in the title being re-issued to you as executor of your dad's estate.

Anthony M. Avery agrees with this answer

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