How to Avoid Having Your Car, Trust, Boat, or Trailer end up in Probate

Missouri is a common sense state and most of our laws reflect that. Missouri has a whole chapter of laws dedicated to non-probate transfers. These are ways that individuals can name or designate a beneficiary and thereby avoiding probate. One of the areas I see this most often relates to vehicles owned by a deceased individual.

This week I had a gentleman call. His father had passed away and had left an old boat and trailer. The total value of the boat and trailer were approximately $500. Yet, because the father had not designated a beneficiary, the boat and trailer were still in his name. The son was calling to find out how much it would cost to have a small estate opened in probate court so he could get the boat and trailer retitled in his name.

At $500, the question became whether the son thought it was worth the cost to do the small estate. The son decided it was and we were able to help him file a small estate. Yet, this headache could have been prevented with a little planning. The father could have simply added a Transfer on Death (TOD) to the title of both the boat and the trailer.

What is a TOD?
TOD stands for Transfer on Death. It is a simple way to transfer ownership of your vehicle, trailer, or equipment to another at the death of the owner. It is a very easy and cost effective way to avoid probate.

How do I add a TOD?
Fill out a Fill out Application for Missouri Title and License (Form 108). In most instances, you can simply go to the license bureau and they will fill out this form for you, you will complete the “TOD Beneficiaries, If Applicable” box, sign, have it notarized, pay the fee ($11.00 total – $8.50 title fee; $2.50 processing fee) and you are done.

What to do after Death?
Return to the license bureau. Again, usually they are very helpful. They will help you obtain a title in the beneficiary’s name. The new title will cost $11.00.