Surviving Spouse

Tenn. Code Ann. Sections 55-4-118(b), 55-6-109, 30-2-101 et. Seq.


  • A “Surviving Spouse” may apply for a new title in their name at no cost within the first year of the death of the spouse. If the surviving spouse does not qualify for the current registration, a new plate must be assigned. If application is made after one year, the title and plate shall be issued at regular cost.


  • When filing application for certificate of title and registration provide the following:
    • Application for Title and Registration
    • Certificate of Title
    • Copy of Death Certificate
    • Fees, if applicable
  • NOTE: No matter if the vehicle was in “joint" or "single” ownership, the new/used field and
    purchase date will not change on the new title as long as the transfer is within the year of
    the death.
  • If the surviving spouse sells to an ultimate purchaser without having the title in their name, the outstanding certificate of title should be properly assigned from surviving spouse to purchaser. In this instance, the following documents are needed to support transfer of the title into the new owner's name:


  • The surviving spouse or unmarried minor children of the deceased are entitled to certain property of the estate, including the family automobile, without regard to its value.
  • When ownership is held in joint tenancy no matter of the conjunction or marital status, the right to survivorship automatically passes to the survivor/co-owner. 
  • In the circumstance of a surviving spouse, the spouse does not need to sign the back of the title.


Have more questions? Submit a request


Please sign in to leave a comment.