probate attorney San Luis Obispo

Keeping vehicles and mobile homes out of probate can be as simple as designating a Transfer on Death (TOD) beneficiary. By naming a TOD beneficiary, an owner can designate a specific individual to receive a vehicle or mobile home immediately following their death – without the need for probate.

A TOD designation is revocable at any time during the registered owner’s life and TOD beneficiaries can be added or deleted. However, there are limitations on when and how TOD designations can be used. Designating a TOD beneficiary may only be used if the property is not community property or there are no other owners on title. Depending on the situation, there may also be other considerations. The probate attorneys at San Luis Obispo’s Toews Law Group, Inc. are available to help make the processes of the non-probate (or probate) transfer of assets as trouble-free as possible.

The following three sections provide more information to help you understand how to make the TOD designations for a vehicle or a mobile home and the responsibilities of beneficiaries.

Designating TOD for vehicles

In California, a TOD beneficiary can only be designated when there is one registered owner of the vehicle. The owner continues to retain full ownership of the vehicle and can sell it or donate it without notifying the TOD beneficiary. The owner can revoke or change the TOD at any time by simply completing and filing a new certificate of title.

If an owner desires to name a beneficiary to receive their vehicle upon their death they can do so by completing the New Registered Owner information on the back of the California Certificate of Title (pink slip) as follows:

  1. Enter the current registered owner’s name as the new registered owner.
  2. On the next line, enter the letters “TOD” and the name of the beneficiary.
  3. Complete the rest of the section. The TOD beneficiary does not need to sign.
  4. Take the completed and signed form to the DMV and pay the appropriate fees.

Upon the owner’s death, the named TOD beneficiary must take certain steps to secure the transfer of ownership. The first step is to enter the name of the registered owner and countersign the title and complete the DMV Statement of Facts (REG 256) form. The DMV may also require a copy of the death certificate and an Affidavit of Transfer Without Probate. The San Luis Obispo probate attorneys can help you through the transfer process, saving valuable time.

Designating TOD for mobile homes

In California, mobile homes that are not attached to a permanent foundation are registered through the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). A TOD beneficiary can be designated on a mobile home by completing and filing a “Transfer on Death Beneficiary” form that can be downloaded from the HCD website. The same form can also be used to change or delete a beneficiary. Like with a vehicle, there are limitations on how the TOD beneficiary designation can be used for mobile homes. For example, the TOD beneficiary cannot be a registered owner of the mobile home.

The TOD is revocable during the owner’s lifetime and the beneficiary does not take any ownership interest while the owner is still alive. The owner can sell it or make any other kind of ownership transfer without the TOD beneficiary’s signature.

Upon the owner’s death, the beneficiary can secure their ownership of the mobile home by submitting the following to HCD:

  • The certificate of title.
  • A completed and signed “Transfer on Death Beneficiary” form.
  • A certified copy of the death certificate.

Beneficiary’s responsibilities in both circumstances

The beneficiary of a vehicle or a mobile home is responsible for providing the necessary forms and fees to the appropriate agency.

The beneficiary is also responsible for:

  • Rent or payments due for the mobile home or vehicle.
  • Fines or penalties that may be levied on the mobile home or vehicle.
  • Current registration and associated fees.

The beneficiary may also sell, trade, or transfer title to either asset.

Ask the experts

California’s transfer on death processes for mobile homes and vehicles are fairly simple, but when the assets are of significant value, there is also a will, a trust, or the rest of the estate is in probate, expert advice is going to be to your benefit.

Unfortunately, transferring assets to heirs and beneficiaries don’t always go smoothly, even when there is a will and a trust. Settling an estate can become even more complicated when going through probate. The San Luis Obispo probate attorneys can help make sure a trust is set up correctly to avoid probate as well as advise on non-probate transfers. When an estate is in probate, Toews Law Group, Inc. can provide competent, timely, and easy-to-understand representation to the personal representative(s) of the decedent.

Call today for a consultation.

This information has been prepared by Toews Law Group, Inc. for informational purposes only and is not legal or tax advice. The transmission of this information is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.