An easy way to plan your estate is with beneficiary designations on your assets. Beneficiaries on bank accounts are POD (“payable on death”) designations. Beneficiaries on investment accounts are TOD (“transfer on death”) designations. You can even have beneficiaries on your real property through a beneficiary deed. The one fly in the ointment was the vehicle. Until recently you could not have a beneficiary on your vehicle; on July 27, 2011, that changed.
Arkansas Code Annotated section 27-14-727 is entitled “Certificate of Title with Beneficiary” and it lays out the rules for this new method of transferring your vehicle.
Up to three people may jointly own a vehicle and one person can be a beneficiary; the beneficiary will own the vehicle after the last joint owner’s death. The vehicle must have wheels and a license requirement and be used primarily to transport people or property on roads. Mobile homes probably do not qualify as vehicles able to have beneficiaries.
The application requires the name, address, and social security number of the beneficiary and costs around $14.
The beneficiary title is not available if there is a lien on the title or the property is held by more than one owner as tenants-in-common (instead of jointly). If a lien is placed on the vehicle, the beneficiary designation is removed.
The statute outlines the revocation method and changes are not otherwise allowed. For example, a designation in a will and a change in circumstances do not affect the beneficiary designation.
The forms are still being finalized at the Office of Motor Vehicles; but, it preliminarily appears that they will expand the statute to include watercraft. In the spa city, having a beneficiary on a boat could mean smooth sailing.
If you have questions, be sure to call your favorite local attorney.