The Michigan Secretary of State (“SOS”) has thrown us a curve. For as long as I can remember, it was possible to title a motor vehicle in the name of a trust. This was routinely done when a vehicle owner’s estate was being probated after death. If the probate estate included motor vehicles and the decedent had set up a trust, the vehicles would be retitled in the name of that trust and then either sold by the trustee or transferred directly to trust beneficiaries.
Vehicles were also sometimes retitled in trust during the vehicle owner’s life or were automatically transferred to trust upon the vehicle owner’s death via a transfer-on-death designation completed prior to death. (I wrote about these designations in a blog post just this past June.)
And here is the curve. Beginning this year, the SOS’s manual is reportedly prohibiting all trust ownership of a motor vehicle. I say “reportedly” because, to date, no one in the legal community has been able to obtain a copy of the manual. We’re relying on verbal communication from SOS staffers, and some of that information has been slightly contradictory.
I imagine that attorneys statewide will be pressing the SOS for clarification, and also for the rationale behind what appears to be an illogical policy decision. For now, if you have a motor vehicle titled in trust, please feel free to call us at (248) 477-6300 for guidance as to your options.