Is the purpose of a living Trust to avoid probate?

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Is the purpose of a living Trust to avoid probate?

My father-in-law passed away in another state. He had a living family Trust that my wife is successor trustee for. His car (titled under his name, not the trust) still had a lien on it as he owed money on it. We borrowed money to pay off his loan and are now trying to register the car in the state in which we live. DMV is rejecting our banks request to transfer title and saying we need to put the car through probate. We’re not sure how to proceed. I though that the purpose of a living trust was to avoid probate?

Asked on May 7, 2014 under Estate Planning, Colorado

Answers:

Nathan Wagner / Law Office of Nathan Wagner

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

You are correct. One purpose of a living trust is to avoid probate. However, it only avoids probate for the items that are actually placed in the trust, and you write that the car was not titled in the name of the trust. So the car would still have to go through probate. 

Many states have simplified procedures for smaller estates. If the car is the only asset not in the trust, you should be able to transfer it using a small estate affidavit (or similar procedure in your father-in-law's state), and you would avoid having to file a full probate case. 


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