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Colorado Now Allows "Beneficiary Title" to Motor Vehicles

In 2016, Colorado law changed to allow anyone owning a car registered in the state to name a beneficiary to receive that car without having to go through probate. This can make estate planning for modest estates even easier.

This is similar to the beneficiary deed for real estate that Colorado has had in place for some time. The vehicle owner must complete Department of Revenue Form DR2009 and keep it with her estate planning documents. Then, upon the death of the vehicle owner, the beneficiary presents the form with a death certificate and the title will transfer to the beneficiary after paying the appropriate transfer fees.

Revoking the form can be done by selling the vehicle (beneficiary approval not needed) or completing a new form. It's odd, though, that you can't revoke the form by destroying it, such as you can with a Last Will and Testament.

In the past, estates where the only probate asset was a vehicle could usually transfer ownership by way of a Colorado small estate affidavit without having to use the full probate process. Use of that affidavit could sometimes prove difficult, though, if the estate was payable to multiple persons or there were creditors that had to be paid from the small estate assets. Any lien on the vehicle would still have to be paid, of course, even using this new beneficiary form.

A word of warning, though. This form will supersede anything in your Last Will and Testament. So if you decide to do a new Will, you should review this form along with any other beneficiary designations you may have on record.

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