Avoiding Probate: At our firm we help a lot of clients create living trusts, which is the best way to leave your estate to your loved ones without going through probate. Avoiding probate involves holding your assets in the name of the trust, or naming your beneficiaries in a document with your investment firm or, for real estate, even creating and recording a beneficiary deed. However, one question has always been how to transfer your vehicles. While our clients could technically transfer title to their vehicles to their living trust, a new method appears much easier: a recent law in Arizona now allows you to name whomever you like as the beneficiary of your vehicle(s) with the use of a simple form.
Form 96-0561: The form you need to transfer you car, truck or RV upon your death is Form 96-0561 and you can access it on the Arizona Department of Transportation website. Be aware, to use this form there must be only one owner of the vehicle. So if you and your spouse are joint owners on the title, you will not be able to use this form. Also, you may designate more than one person as the beneficiaries of the vehicle, using the designations OR, AND, or AND/OR. There is an explanation of each of these on the form.
Pour Over Wills: Again, when we create living trusts for clients, we often advise the client not to worry about re-titling their vehicles into the name of the trust. This is because the client also has a pour over will, which says that anything they failed to transfer to the trust during lifetime is transferred upon death. This works well if the vehicle has a net worth of less than, say, $25,000. In this situation, it is unlikely a vehicle will trigger the need for probate. However, this new beneficiary form in Arizona removes any second-guessing and can get your vehicle to the person you desire without having to worry about changing the title or probate.
If you have any questions on the above or any other legal matter, please contact us.