One of the most frequent questions received during seminars and consultations is, “How should I title my Maryland motor vehicle?” There are different options for you to consider. If the vehicle is titled in your name alone, then upon your death, the vehicle must go through the probate process for your executor to either sell or retitle your vehicle. We often suggest avoiding the probate process. Here are some suggestions to avoid probate:
- You may add your spouse as the joint owner of your vehicle. Upon your death, your spouse will automatically own the vehicle without having to go through the probate process. However, the surviving spouse must retitle the vehicle in their name alone.
- If you have a Revocable Living Trust, you may re-title the vehicle to the name of your Trust. We often recommend this option when a vehicle is valued over $80,000.00 or you have a classic car.
- As of January 1, 2018, the MVA allows you to add a beneficiary on your title. The vehicle must be solely owned and you may name either an individual or a business entity as the beneficiary. You must do this online. http://www.mva.maryland.gov/about-mva/info/27300/27300-78t.htm will open “Designating a Beneficiary on a Vehicle Title”. In the Requirements and Instructions section, scroll down to and select the last option: “Click here” to complete the beneficiary designation for your vehicle title. This will take you to a new page. On the left side of the screen, click on the last option under Vehicle Services which is “Vehicle Beneficiary Designation” to complete the beneficiary designation for your vehicle title. The fee to add a beneficiary to your title is $20.00.
- The final option is to sign the back of your title under seller but do not date. You must also complete the MVA Gift Form. When a vehicle is transferred to a member of your immediate family, the vehicle registration may be transferred without obtaining new registration plates.
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