Creating a revocable trust allows you to control the disposition of your assets upon your death. As the trust grantor, also known as the settlor, you may overlook transferring your vehicles into your trust. Leaving the vehicles titled in your name may delay the transfer of the vehicles to your beneficiaries, possibly forcing your heirs to go through the time and expense of opening an estate to probate the title transfers of your vehicles.
Verify with your state's department of motor vehicles that you can legally transfer ownership of the vehicles into your revocable trust. Contact your automobile insurance agent to make sure the company will still provide coverage for the vehicles. You will have to find a new insurance company if your present insurer will not provide coverage for your trust-owned vehicles. If you have a vehicle loan, check with the lender to see if you can retitle the vehicles. You will have to pay off the existing loan before you can transfer the title to the trust, so have new financing in place before doing so.Step 2
Go to your state’s department of motor vehicles website and download the forms for transferring vehicle titles to a revocable trust. As the current owner, you will fill in the seller’s information on the form. Be sure to fill in the name of the trustee, who is the person or entity responsible for managing the trust assets, as the new owner. For example, you could write, “John Doe, as Trustee of the John Doe Revocable Trust, Dated Jan. 1, 2011.” If someone other than yourself is named as trustee, that person will sign the form as trustee.Step 3
Remember that titling the vehicles in the trust’s name is only part of the task. The vehicle registrations must also be changed, along with getting new tags for each vehicle. Call ahead to make an appointment with your local department of motor vehicles office or walk in at your convenience. As grantor, you need to bring along your photo identification, revocable trust documents and the vehicle titles naming the revocable trust as the new owner.Step 4
Bring along your proof of insurance showing the trust as the named insured. The trustee must also be present with a photo ID. Be sure to put the new plates on your vehicles and keep the registration with each vehicle.
- Some states will allow you to transfer a vehicle that is not held in a revocable trust without going through probate. Check and see if your state will allow this or if you must transfer the vehicles into your trust.
- Contact your state’s department of revenue to see what taxes are imposed on transferring vehicles into a revocable trust.
Based in St. Petersburg, Fla., Karen Rogers covers the financial markets for several online publications. She received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of South Florida.