I'm looking at buying a used vehicle in undrivable condition. It's what you'd call a classic car, and I'm looking to restore it to roadworthy condition. I'd like to be able to register it as a normal roadworthy vehicle when the project is complete, but the following circumstances are unusual.

The previous owner (hereafter Owner B) purchased the car at auction from the estate of the original owner (Owner A) upon Owner A's decease. Owner B obtained the title (signed by executor of the estate, but never by Owner B), bill of sale, and a death certificate.

Upon purchasing the vehicle, which had transmission issues and was not drivable, Owner B did not register the car or sign a title. It has essentially been in storage since the purchase, and has not been taken off Owner B's property.

If I purchase the vehicle from Owner B with the paperwork mentioned, is it possible to register the vehicle?

To my knowledge, the car has lived its entire life in the state of Missouri, which is where all future work and titling would be done.

  • This has to do with very local and specific vehicle, estate and tax regs in MO, so you're much better off simply calling dor.mo.gov/motorv rather than waiting for an answer here. Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 19:20
  • An important note to make: the varied DMV workers and low-level state-employed people I've talked to have given conflicting and incomplete answers. I'm continuing the search elsewhere, but I'll leave the question up as I believe it to be general enough to possibly be helpful to others whenever I get an answer.
    – BoffinFrog
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 19:38
  • If Owner B is alive, borrow the paperwork and take it to the DMV office and ask for a supervisor. You're going to be able to register it, but you may will have to pay all back taxes. Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 20:28
  • Owner B and myself are currently planning to go in to the DMV together and take all relevant paperwork; if it's not possible to title the vehicle in his name, I'll have to walk away. I'll update when I find out if the paperwork is enough for Owner B to title so long after purchase.
    – BoffinFrog
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 17:25

1 Answer 1


Normally, in addition to the documentation required one would need either "Letters Testamentary" or "Letters of Administration" to establish that the executor had the authority to transfer the car (unless the car was originally titled in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, or with a transfer on death title, with the executor listed).

Merely being listed in a Will as an executor without having a court with probate jurisdiction issuing Letters does not give the executor the authority to transfer the car. Also, the Letters must often be certified by the clerk of the court reasonably close in time to the date of the transfer as Letters expire when the estate is closed.

  • I'm working with the seller right now to find out if he has proper paperwork to update title to himself before moving forward at all. I believe the executor was on the title.
    – BoffinFrog
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 17:23
  • If the executor was on the title, then the probate or letters are irrelevant as the executor is taking as a joint tenant with right of survivorship rather than as a beneficiary of a probate estate.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 22, 2017 at 18:32

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