Estate Planning For The Car

 In Learning Center

Have you thought about estate planning for your car? If not, you probably planning for the car

Ohio law allows you to designate a Transfer on Death Beneficiary (TOD) on an automobile title. This is just like a beneficiary on a bank account. The beneficiary can be a person, a trust, or a business entity.  After the death of the vehicle owner, the beneficiary takes the title to the Clerk of Court Auto Title Office, pays a small fee, and leaves with a title in his or her name. No attorney, no probate court, no potentially long delay, no hassle. If you know that there is a car that you are not going to sell and you are definitely going to leave it to a certain person, the auto title TOD designation is the way to go. It’s a clean process.

It’s important to point out that there is a process to name a beneficiary on that title. The vehicle owner must go to the Title Office, and that office will issue a new title showing the owner as “OWNER TOD BENEFICIARY.” One cannot name a vehicle ownership TOD Beneficiary simply by marking a beneficiary’s name on the back of the title. This will not work.

Current Ohio law allows a surviving spouse to transfer a number of vehicles outside of probate up to a combined value of $65,000. This value is calculated at the time the vehicles are transferred.

This means we need to consider a few things.

  • This option is only available to a surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, and not a TOD beneficiary on the auto title, you must go through the probate process to transfer a car to the next generation. The costs to do this in probate might be more than the value car.
  • The surviving spouse cannot take a car that would be left as a specific gift to someone in a will.
  • A lot of classic and/or restored vehicles are going to be over the $65,000 value alone.


There is no need to have a probate administration just for the car. Contact me to plan ahead to transfer the car to the next generation.

Vacation HomesIs probate really that bad?