Estate Planning For The Car
Have you thought about estate planning for your car? If not, you probably should.
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.