Keeping Your Car Out of Probate

Many people choose to establish a trust in order to avoid the cost and delay associated with probating an estate. However, probate is required in Arizona if a person dies owning $50,000 of personal property or $75,000 of real property.  Assets that have been placed in a trust are not included in the valuation, but most people do not place their car in trust.  One alternative is to add the name of another person on the title, but that exposes that person to potential liability if the vehicle becomes involved in an accident.

Recently adopted legislation in Arizona now permits the naming of a beneficiary on a vehicle title so that the vehicle can pass to the beneficiary immediately upon the death of the owner. By keeping the vehicle out of the value of the probate estate, it may be possible to avoid probate altogether.  In order to list a beneficiary designation for one of your vehicles you need to complete a form that gets filed with your vehicle title. The form, which can either be notarized or witnessed by an MVD agent, is available online at the Arizona Department of Transportation website.


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