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Arizona is one of only a handful of states that offers a “transfer on death” designation for automobiles.
What does this mean for you?
A “transfer on death” designation, or Beneficiary Designation, is a way to leave your car to an individual outside of probate. This is a good option if you don’t have your vehicle titled in your Trust’s name.
However, this is not a viable option if more than one person holds title, as the form provides transfer only if you are, “the sole owner of the motor vehicle . . ..”
Every state has its own form. The Beneficiary Designation form for Arizona can be found here:
The form may be filled out at the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) in front of an MVD agent who will notarize the form, or the form can be filled out and signed in front of a regular notary.
Once the form is filled out, the vehicle owner must staple the form to the title and put it in a safe place. Because the vehicle will pass outside of probate, the Personal Representative will not be responsible for the vehicle upon the vehicle owner’s death. Therefore, it is advisable to notify your loved ones that the Beneficiary Designation is attached to the title, and where the title is kept.
If you apply for more from an attorney, you will find out that the Beneficiary Designation has no legal effect until the vehicle owner dies. Therefore, the owner can revoke the Beneficiary Designation at any time. This is convenient if the vehicle owner purchases a new car, or, if there is a relationship change, such as divorce, and the vehicle owner wishes to change the Beneficiary Designation.
Upon the vehicle owner’s death, the intended Beneficiary will need to take the vehicle title, with the attached Beneficiary Designation form that was filled out properly, to the MVD. The Beneficiary will need to bring proper identification and a copy of the death certificate.
For a small fee, the MVD will provide the Beneficiary with a new title in the Beneficiary’s name. Be aware that the vehicle will transfer subject to existing loans on the vehicle.
Additionally, there are legal implications if you intend to leave the automobile to more than one individual. Read the form carefully, and/or consult with an attorney for clarification.
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Phoenix, AZ 85004
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