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New form allows transfer of vehicle titles without probate

During the recently completed session, the Colorado General Assembly created a new estate planning tool. It will allow you to designate a beneficiary who will receive title to your vehicle when you pass away.

The measure, known as House Bill 16-1051, received unanimous approval in the House and Senate. It was signed into law by the governor on March 23. The Department of Revenue will create a new form to facilitate transfers. A named beneficiary will only need to bring the form and a death certificate to a county clerk's office to obtain a new title.

In this post, we will discuss the current title transfer process. As the new requirements go into effect, if is recommended to speak with an estate administration attorney to ensure the process is completed properly.

Current process: Probate often required

As the process currently stands, a rightful heir needs to jump through several hoops to transfer title to a motor vehicle in Colorado. Usually, it requires a court order.

The Denver Motor Vehicle Division explains the process. Within 60 days of transfer of the Cadillac or Acura sport utility vehicle, you need to present the certificate of title along with an application for title at your local DMV.

You need to have the following documents:

  • A death certificate
  • Court order - a copy is sufficient and could include the Letters of Testamentary appointing you personal representative or executor
  • Signed title - this requirement varies depending on whether the vehicle was jointly owed, but generally requires that the a person named in court papers sign in the seller's signature line
  • New owner identification - your identification or a completed power of attorney is sufficient
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN) verification - only applies if dealing with an out-of-state title or vehicle from another state.

The new form allows for a nonprobate transfer of title by removing the need for a court order and signature of the personal representative or executor. This is similar to other transfer on death options.

Our April 2015 blog post describes a similar type of transfer. A beneficiary deed will automatically transfer a property interest. These deeds come with an additional filing requirement. They need to be recorded with the County Clerk and Recorders Office before becoming effective.

Obtaining advice will help you make the best planning decisions and avoid errors. The attorneys at Chayet & Danzo can answer your questions and help you find the right estate planning tools that will meet your needs.

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