Death and the DMV
In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
The other day, I got a letter from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles notifying me that the registration on the minivan was expiring but that, because the title includes my late wife’s name on it, I would have to change said title to renew.
Considering that the title is a piece of paper that serves no purpose whatsoever until such time as I wish to sell the vehicle, and that I sold my 350Z, which also had my wife’s name on the title, a few months after her death (the utility of a two-seater for a single man with two small children is minimal) without much difficulty, it’s not at all obvious why I needed to change the title. Especially since both our names were on it and it clearly states that the other party has a right of survivorship.
But, bureaucracy being what it is, I dutifully complied and went to the DMV this morning to take care of the task.
Despite the fact that the Commonwealth had informed me that I needed to take this action, meaning they were quite aware that my wife had died, they nonetheless insisted I show them a certified death certificate, which they themselves had issued. Why, I have no idea. But, having anticipated this absurdity, I was prepared for it.
Additionally, I had to pay a $10 fee. Now, I’m thankfully in a position where the financial hit is negligible and, indeed, I’m pretty sure $10 doesn’t cover the administrative cost of issuing me a new title. Still, it seems rather unsporting to force widowers to trudge to the DMV to take their dearly departed’s name off a piece of paper that otherwise just sits in a file drawer and then charge them for the privilege.
By DMV standards, at least, the experience was reasonably efficient and the two employees with whom I interacted were pleasant enough. Still, a rather surreal experience.