You can Donate the Car of A Loved One in California Just Follow These Steps

It's hard when we lose someone we love and sometimes we do not know what to do with their belongings.  It may be painful for you to hold on to the item or you just may need it. If this item is a car, you can choose one of the hundreds of charities who will gladly accept your donation. These charities will use the car in their effort to help others. You can take comfort in knowing that your loved one's vehicle is going to a good cause and will benefit many needy individual.


Get An Official Copy Of The Death Certificate

You have to include a copy of the death certificate, along with the clear title. You can go to the California Department of Public Health office or visit their website if you need help obtaining a death certificate.  If for some reason you do not have the title, but the car is paid for outright, you can get a duplicate title by filling out a form REG 227 and REG 226 (you can obtain them from your local California Department of Motor Vehicles-or on their website). You have to sign both forms since you are technically the "seller."


Have A Copy Of The Will Showing That The Car Was Willed To You

This is also important if you want to donate a car when the owner is deceased. You much show that the car is now legally yours to keep, sell or donate.


Get The Car Ready

If it is too painful for you to remove your loved one's items, you can speak to the charity representatives to see if they will accept the car "as is".  Generally, you should make sure the car is cleaned in general (although most charities will take the car in any condition), but under the circumstances that may not be emotionally possible. Also, at this time you should search for the book value of your car in its current condition. This will give you and idea of your deduction amount.


What Charity Would You Like To Donate a Car in California? How Do I Choose?

Choose the charity of your choice. You can search online for charities to donate your car to in California-there should be an abundance of charities. You can go to your local church or community center to find charities to donate your car to.  Some other charities to donate your car in California include: Cars for Breast Cancer, Cars for Veterans, and Cars for Kids.  Sites such as "America's Car Donation Center," "1-800-Charity Cars" and "Cars for Causes," can also help you find an appropriate charity to donate your car in California.

Charities recommended by those organizations are usually legitimate so you can donate with piece of mind. You can also check Forbes 200 best charities-the link is attached below in the Refence section.You should search the IRS website to make sure that the charity you chose is a qualified charity for you to receive a tax deduction. Since some qualified charities may not be listed on the IRS site-such as some churches, and synagogues you should call the IRS  Account Services toll free number (877) 829-5500 to be sure.


Fill Out The Vehicle Donation Form

Once you choose the charity, you then donate your car.  Fill out the Vehicle Donation Form on the charity's website.  You can speak to the charity's donation contact person if you have any questions on how to fill out the online form or if you wish to fill out the form at the charity's location instead. You will be asked a series of questions about yourself, the vehicle location and the condition of the vehicle.

After you have filled out the form then you and the charity can work out when they can pick up the car.  Once you donate the car, it is hard to say what the charity will do with it.  They will decide whether they can sell the car as a whole or sell the car for scraps and parts depending on the condition of the vehicle. There should be no costs to you at all, even if the car needs to be towed.


Return the License Plate To The DMV

Remove the plates once your deliver the car or after you have it towed. In California, the plates must remain on the car while in transit. In Arkansas, Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, Louisiana, Oregon, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Washington, Texas and California the plates must remain on the car. The plates should then be returned to the DMV. 


Get A Receipt

Get a receipt from the charity in California where you donated your car.


Submit A Release Of Liability Form

In California as well as in Arizona, you must also turn in a Release of Liability, REG 138 which may be called a "Report of Sale" and put "donation" when it asks for the purchase price.


Prepare For Tax Time

Claim it on your taxes. You can only claim donating your car as a deduction if you itemize  using Schedule A of Form 1040. Find out what the deduction amount is from the charity. If they did not provide you with that information within four weeks, give them a call.  Your deduction can be up to $500. If your deduction is more than $500 then you MUST include the following:

A written acknowledgment  from the charity containing the following information:

  • Your name and taxpayer identification number
  • The vehicle identification number
  • The date of the contribution, and one of the following:
  • A statement that no goods or services were provided by the charity in return for the donation, if that was the case
  • A description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services, if any, that the charity provided in return for the donation, or
  • A statement that goods or services provided by the charity consisted entirely of intangible religious benefits, if that was the case


Related Articles

How To Donate Your Car In Sacramento California

Can I Donate A Car In California With No Title?


Important Links and References A Donor's Guide to Vehicle Donation Guide To Donating A Car Charitable Contributions of Certain Motor Vehicles Charitable Contributions

California Department of Motor Vehicles: Notice of Release-REG 138

California Department of Motor Vehicles: REG 227

Forbes Magazine: Top 200 Charities