By Matthew A. Quick If you are looking for easy, how about property automatically transferring to a beneficiary upon the owner's death, without probate or any other administration. Deposit accounts (checking, savings) can have transfer on death provisions, so too can individual retirement accounts and life insurance. When it comes to vehicles, state law provides an opportunity to designate a beneficiary right on the title in the event the owner dies. 625 ILCS 5/3-104 provides:
The Secretary of State shall designate on the prescribed application form a space where the owner of a vehicle may designate a beneficiary, to whom ownership of the vehicle shall pass in the event of the owner's death.
Further, 625 ILCS 5/3-107 provides:
The Secretary of State shall designate on a certificate of title a space where the owner of a vehicle may designate a beneficiary, to whom ownership of the vehicle shall pass in the event of the owner's death.
If it fits into your estate plan, visit the Secretary of State to designate a beneficiary on your title. This process provides a great alternative to placing a vehicle in trust or having joint vehicle owners (too much liability!).
If, however, a beneficiary was not designated prior to the passing of a decent, consider the use of a small estate affidavit or attorney's affidavit. More information can be found by clicking here: Vehicle Title Transfers . Here is the Illinois Secretary of State Small Estate Affidavit.
The lesson: There are easier alternatives to transferring a vehicle than opening a probate estate. Please contact me with any questions.