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Should Both Spouses Be on the Car Title

Should Both Spouses Be on the Car Title?

When you buy a car as a married couple, one important decision is whose name(s) should go on the title and maybe if both spouses should be on the title.

There are pros and cons to consider for having just one spouse or both spouses listed as owners on the title and I will discuss them more below.

Related Article To Read:

Pros – Why Have Both Spouses on the Title?

There are several advantages to having both spouses listed as owners on the car title:

  • Shared Ownership Rights: With both names on the title, you both have equal legal rights to the vehicle. Either spouse can sell or transfer the title without the other’s consent.
  • Avoiding Probate: If one spouse passes away, the other spouse automatically inherits the vehicle without going through probate court since they are already a co-owner.
  • Building Credit: Being a co-owner and making payments can help build the credit of the spouse with a lower credit score.
  • Relationship Symbol: For some couples, having both names represents the shared partnership and commitment in the marriage.
  • Legal Protection: If a car is titled only in one spouse’s name, and that spouse gets sued and has a judgment against them, the creditor may be able to take the car to pay off the debt. However, if the car is titled in both spouses’ names, it becomes harder (but not impossible) for the creditor to take the car for the debt of just one spouse

Cons – Why Have Only One Spouse on the Title?

On the other hand, there are also some potential benefits to having just one spouse listed as the owner:

  • Limiting Liability: If one spouse gets into an accident or incurs tickets/fines, only their assets are at risk in a lawsuit since the other spouse is not an owner.
  • Easier Vehicle Transfers: With just one name, transferring or selling the vehicle down the road only requires one signature.
  • Avoiding Probate (in Some States): In certain states, you can avoid probate for a vehicle by having just the surviving spouse’s name on the title.

Common Sense Recommendations For Titling a Car in Marriage

Based on the pros and cons, here are some common sense recommendations for whose name(s) to put on the car title:

  • Primary Driver Owns It: Have the spouse who will be the primary driver of the vehicle be the sole owner listed on the title. This limits liability for the other spouse.
  • Both Spouses on Loan, One on Title: If taking out a loan, have both spouses co-sign as borrowers but only put the primary driver’s name on the actual title.
  • Both Spouses on Title in Community Property States: In community property states where assets are considered jointly owned, it makes sense to put both spouses on the title.
  • Use Trusts or TOD Beneficiaries: Instead of joint ownership, consider using a trust or transfer-on-death (TOD) beneficiary designation to avoid probate.

Can One Spouse Buy a Car and Put It in the Other Spouse’s Name?

Yes, it is possible in any state to buy a car and title it in your wife or husband’s name, however, there are certain states that consider any assets acquired during marriage as jointly owned no matter what name is on the title.

Exception: If you purchase the car via financing, the lender might require it to be in your name. Once the loan is paid off, you can then remove the buyers name.

Adding a Spouse to a Previous Car Purchase: Can You Add Someone To A Car Title?

Summary and My Final Thoughts

The decision should factor in your state’s laws, personal preferences, and which option provides the most advantages for your particular situation as a couple. Discussing it together is wise before purchasing a vehicle.

Legal Disclaimer: The information provided in this article, including but not limited to the advantages and disadvantages of having both spouses on a car title, is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. The decision to include both spouses on a car title involves important legal, financial, and personal considerations that may vary based on individual circumstances and state laws. We strongly recommend consulting with a legal professional or financial advisor to understand the implications specific to your situation. This article does not substitute for professional legal advice and should not be used as the sole basis for any legal or financial decisions. The publisher and author disclaim any liability for actions taken or not taken based on the content of this article.

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Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


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