Written by Associate Attorney Danielle Nodar
For most assets, the transfer of title from the individual’s name to the name of the trustee of the revocable living trust is a fairly simple process—such as changing the name of a bank account from “John Doe” to “John Doe, Trustee of the John Doe Revocable Trust.” Oftentimes, we can change title for clients by creating a deed or transfer document. For other assets, however, transferring title can be trickier. An example of such an asset is a vehicle. When clients ask us if they can transfer their car into their revocable living trusts, they often get the dreaded lawyer answer: “It depends.”
To transfer title of a car to a trust, the owner will have to first check with their insurance company to determine if they will permit the vehicle to be owned by the trustee. This is because some insurance companies have internal policies prohibiting the insuring of vehicles owned by a trustee of a revocable living trust.
If the insurance company does allow the trustee to own the vehicle, the next step is updating the registration and title at the DMV to reflect that the ownership of the vehicle has now been transferred. This can often be a cumbersome process requiring multiple trips to the DMV because each office is different in terms of what kind of documentation they may require. For example, while the DMV indicates that a copy of the front and back of the first and last pages of the trust is required for showing proof that a trust is in existence, some DMVs will allow you to use a Certification of Trust instead. All DMV offices will require the owner of the vehicle to fill out a title application (which must be signed before a notary), notarized vehicle title, proof of the trust, and acceptable identification for the owner. There will also be fees, and, in some cases, taxes imposed for transferring the title and registration.
If you have any questions about titling vehicles or any other property in a revocable trust, or creating a revocable trust in the first place, please give Jesson & Rains a call!
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