How does an estate transfer ownership?

15 December 2023

Guide Deceased Estate Administration

How is ownership transferred from a deceased estate?

If you’re an executor or beneficiary in a person’s will, there are a few things you need to know about transferring the person’s property or vehicle. A beneficiary is any person or organisation that is left something in a person’s will.

Real estate

How real estate is owned affects how it is transferred. Real estate can be owned:

  • Solely – by one person
  • Jointly – by two people together where a person’s share of the property automatically transfers to the other owner when the first owner dies
  • Tenants in common – by more than one person but where each person’s share of the property doesn’t automatically transfer to the other owner when they die.

Joint owners with a surviving owner

If two people jointly own real estate, it automatically becomes the property of the surviving owner. The property doesn’t become part of the estate.


The executor, or surviving owner, will need to lodge a surviving proprietor (owner) application with the Land Registry Services office of Land Use Victoria. An Application by Surviving Proprietor lets Land Registry Services know that one of the owners has died. And that they need to transfer the title of the property into the surviving owner’s name.

No surviving owners or tenants in common

Real estate will become part of the estate and be transferred or divided according to the will, if:

  • The sole owner has died
  • The property was owned as a tenant in common
  • Both joint owners have died.

After the executor has a grant of probate or letters of administration, the property will be transferred into the name of the executor or administrator. This person is called the ‘legal personal representative’.


The legal personal representative will hold the real estate until they can distribute it or sell it according to what’s in the will.


To transfer car ownership to a beneficiary, you need to give copies of the death certificate, the will and proof of the executor’s identity to VicRoads. You will also need to fill out a Transfer of registration from a deceased estate form.


To complete the form, you will also need to:

  • Show that there is no money owed on the car and it’s not been reported as stolen
  • Show that the registration is up-to-date
  • Organise a road worthy certificate.

You can find more information and the form on the VicRoads website

Need help?

We have been administering deceased estates for decades. We’re experts in dealing with different types of estates. Our professional staff provide impartial service and trusted, individual care.


Every situation is unique and expert help can make a real difference.


Please contact us for an obligation-free discussion to understand how we can help. Contact us on 1300 138 672.

Useful resources


Will writing guide

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Executor checklist

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8 reasons to update your will

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