By Dan Barney

Estate Planning & the Law

There has been a change in the practices of the Oklahoma Tax Commission and tag agencies regarding what is required to transfer your vehicle at death.

The new interpretation (not a new law) greatly increases the difficulty and could result in the need for probate or other court involvement – just to transfer ownership of your vehicle to a child upon your death.

Until recently, the Oklahoma Tax Commission would accept an affidavit identifying the heirs accompanied by proof of death.

Now, due to recent revisions, this new requirement has been added:

NEW – You need proof that the record owner intended for them to inherit the vehicle and that proof must identify the vehicle by complete VIN number or proof that they are the surviving spouse. The result could be a need to go to court to obtain a court order or probate just to transfer a $5,000-$10,000 vehicle from a widow to her only child. This is truly unreasonable. In addition, a brief inquiry to other attorneys has evolved substantial response including possible alternatives that are available to the Oklahoma Tax Commission but apparently not yet acceptable to them!

However, for now this issue creates a problem for the heirs of decedents who do not have the necessary paperwork to fulfill the new interpretation of the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

So, in straight-forward terms, what should you do in planning to avoid this trap. Until the Oklahoma Tax Commission revises its policy, do the following:

1. Do not leave a vehicle title in your name alone. Either put the title in joint ownership, a trust or, in advance, prepare the paperwork required by the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

a. A written document that identifies the vehicle by VIN and names the intended recipient upon death.

b. In a will or other written notarized document, identify the devisee by name and include the specific VIN number.

For now, do not assume that the vehicle can be transferred to a child or other person via an affidavit and death certificate.

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