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133: From Wheels to Waves: How to Fund Your Trust with Cars, Boats, or Mobile Home Assets

When it comes to funding your trust with assets like cars, mobile homes, and boats, it can get a little complicated and confusing. For instance, do you know whether or not you need to retitle your cars to your trust? And when it comes to mobile homes, before you can even determine whether you should retitle it, you must first know if it’s registered as a vehicle or a home. And what’s recommended for cars and mobile homes differs completely from boats. In this episode of Absolute Trust Talk, we explore these topics in detail to answer some of our most commonly asked questions so you can be more knowledgeable about properly funding your trust. After all, your trust’s effectiveness is directly tied to its assets. So, listen in now!

Time-stamped Show Notes:

0:00 Introduction

0:36 The first asset we’re starting with is cars. Should you retitle them? Here’s what you need to know.

2:48 Bonus Tip: Here’s a way to retitle your vehicle without visiting the DMV.

4:11 Mobile homes—are they a vehicle or a house? The answer varies, and therefore, so does how you include them in your trust.

9:24 If you have a boat and would like to include it in your trust, you don’t want to miss this segment.


Hello, I’m Madison Gunn, and I am here with Kirsten Howe from the Absolute Trust Council to discuss our funding series for your revocable or family trust. We are always looking for ways to educate you regarding ensuring that all of your assets are in your trust. So, we avoid the issues we deal with in a trust administration, down the road, or in an incapacity administration. Today, we’re going to talk about your cars. The biggest question I get in estate planning is what do I do with my cars. We will also talk about mobile homes because they converge on the topic. There are a couple of different ways things can be titled, and we’d talk about cars first. Here’s some. Do you want to talk about whether or not someone has to title their vehicles in their trust? Sure.

There is a provision in the probate code and in the motor vehicle code, I think both, that tells us that we don’t have to probate a vehicle; there’s a whole other DMV-specific process for transferring a car from a dead person to the living doesn’t require probate court. However, if there is a probate, you have to bring the vehicle into the probate. We always tell our clients, don’t bother. Refrain from retitling your cars. Now that you’ve created a trust, it’s not necessarily that you won’t have to go through probate, but you do have to make sure you retitle everything else. Because if there is a $200,000 bank account hanging outside of the trust, there will be a probate, and the cars will get pulled into the probate. The answer is it depends. But you don’t have to retitle your vehicles as long as you are confident you’ll take care of everything else correctly. Yeah.

Or if you’re Jay Leno and you have 100 cars or significant-value cars, like mint condition vehicles that you’ve restored and that are worth a pretty penny, you know, you can see him on Meachum, auto auctions, things like that, you know, those you should probably read ahead.

Yeah, those are worth retitling, okay, yeah. Because RVs are very valuable there.

Those big class A buses like Arby’s, those like, that’s like a home. They’re like three, four, or $500,000. And you can resell them for well over the value.

It is worth retitling in the name of your trust, but most ordinary cars that you drive around are five years old.

A couple of tidbits: You do have to have the title in order to retitle it. You have to have the pink slip, which means you can’t have a note, loan, or lien holder on the car in order to retitle it. Also, life hack: If you have AAA roadside service, you can often do DMV work paperwork in their office rather than going to the DMV.

That is why we tell clients not to retitle their cars; one less trip to the DMV will add years to your life. And that’s a good thing. And because it’s uncommon, sometimes it’s rolling the dice. When you go in there as to whether or not they’ll even let you write, I had clients say I did all the proper paperwork, and I went in there, and they won’t let me retitle it; they say it has to be done after I die. And that’s not true. But maybe they don’t deal with that paperwork on such a regular basis that they even want to.

They know how to do it. Yeah, it’s a good point to walk into there. You never know who you’re going to get. Okay, sorry, we are not bashing the DMV. No, that’s just the reality.

It’s just like anytime you go somewhere, right? Because sometimes, if somebody doesn’t know how to do it, they’ll tell you they can’t. It’s just that rather than dealing with that, they have a lot to process. I’m sure they could be paid better. Tt’s just they’re doing what they can. And it’s not common. So that’s what the point was. One of the other things to talk about is mobile homes. And I’ll talk about that. This could include a travel trailer that you can hitch up to your truck or, you know, a bigger version. Sometimes they call them Park models, where they end up sitting permanently, but also just the good old-fashioned mobile homes. Double Wide. Yeah, trailer park. But what’s replacing that is the modular homes. They don’t look single-wide or double. They’re manufactured homes; they come shipped in two or three pieces, and they put them together, you know, in place, and that they don’t move, you can’t move them. Those are trickier because you don’t remember where, off the top of your head, it’s registered. How might that work? There might be a DMV registration, depending on what it is. It might be registered with the Department of California’s Department of Housing and Community Development, which is the agency that oversees that, and the Department of Housing and Community Development can include manufactured homes and commercial modulars. Sometimes you see those as, like, a school. Yeah. At a school or a construction site. Oh, yeah. You know, yeah. We see floating homes in the Bay Area in Sausalito. They have houseboats; they call them households, but they’re not boats in that jet.

They can’t, and they don’t go to see. You know, you would need a tugboat to move it. It’s not on Lake Shasta. It’s right. Right, like Berryessa. It’s right. It’s flat. There’s no wheelhouse. I don’t have a motor. And, do they know? I don’t think so. Yeah, they’re floating. Yeah. It is popular in Sausalito and up in Seattle. You know, you see big communities like that.

One of the things the Department of Housing Community Development also says covers is truck campers, which are like the camper that sits in the bed of the truck, a bit of a pickup truck. Any recreational vehicle could go either way, too. So you have to see how it’s registered. The DMV could be registered as the Department of Housing. Yeah, so you need to. And if you’re going to return that to your trust, you must go to the appropriate authority and follow their rules.

The good news is that the Department of Housing and Community Development has all the forms on its website. You can easily retitle everything while you’re alive. There’s a process for valuing something after you pass away. That might not be something that a real estate appraiser does to see if you qualify if it’s going to be under, you know, probate because, how do you value that? Right? If it’s not on land you own, you know if you’re paying space, rent somewhere, but you own the building, and in a trailer park or mobile home community? So, there are a few different ways that things are set up. It could be titled with housing and committed development, but you pay a yearly registration to them, similar to the DMV. It could be titled with the DMV, and you pay an annual registration fee, like for your car. Yeah. Or it could be titled housing and community development, but you pay property taxes to the county, which is a different agency. Even though you don’t own the underlying land, you’re still paying what we call property taxes, right? You might pay your space rent to the park, which I like to say is like an HOA fee or a homeowner’s association fee; you’re paying for that pool you have access to, maybe it includes water, things like that. And then, but you also have to pay for your, you know, 300 by two hundred, you know, Pat footpad, you have to pay the property taxes, which is like, you know, some fractional amount.

Okay. So that’s with the mobile or manufactured home manufactured home. Yeah, I think the term mobile gets things tricky because you’re just going to the DMV. Yeah. If you can move it, and that might be used, some of them are, yeah. That may have been the dividing line. Is it movable? Or is it not? And then I think the lines just really blurred, and as time goes on, you know, the increase in these tiny homes that might be on a trailer chassis that you can tow or at use, you know, the fact that they’re selling these modular or manufactured homes, you know, they’re manufactured homes. Yeah. As an ADU. And if you’re putting it on your own property, it’s probably your property. Yeah, yeah, your property is going to get reassessed. Yeah, but there’s floating. Talk about making it so you can sell these to us without partitioning your land. The state has approved the ability to do that, but they need a process. My understanding is that we need to figure out how that’s going to work. But like that, you could sell the ad in your backyard. That’s like, how do you do that?

And then you have to charge rent for this pad.

Right? There will likely be a bunch of laws coming down the pipeline. It’s mostly to address, you know, housing crisis, but, you know, it will affect everything else. Eventually, it’s going to affect how you title your assets. Stay tuned for when that law changes; we’ll let you know.

Okay, and the other thing that’s related to this is we talked about the floating housing boats, which can be registered with the DMV, and often boats are registered with the DMV. But if they’re above a specific size, don’t ask me to tell them what the size is. Then, they have to be registered with the Coast Guard. And again, you have to know what kind of boat you have. And you know, if you’ve got the pink slip for your boat, you can tell it will say so. We would like those to be reregistered if they’re Coast Guard boats, mainly because it’s registered through the federal government. They don’t care about the California laws. Yeah, they don’t want a court order. They don’t care what the probate code says. So, if you have a Coast Guard-registered boat, you want to retitle it in the name of your trust, and you can do that. It’s worth doing. Because, yeah, it’s work. Yeah. If you don’t, there’s going to be some pushback, most likely. And it’ll just be much more complicated.

Especially since it’s probably not in your driveway. If you have a Coast Guard boat, it’s probably in a slip somewhere. So, you do that to be able to sell it at least, let alone if it’s not registered, you can’t sail it or drive it or, you know, go off the sea, you know, you don’t want to get caught that way. Right, that’s important, too. All right. Well, we’ll be back, I’m sure, for many more parts of this funding series because there are a lot of assets out there that fall into their little weird categories. Or not odd, but it’s more challenging than just walking into your bank and changing October. It’s just a deed. It always bears repeating. If you have a trust, you must get those assets there. Here we are, trying to help you figure out how to do that.

Yeah, because your trust is only as good as it’s fun as it was as what it owns. All right. Very good.

Thank you, Kirsten.

Thank you, Madison. We look forward to connecting with you all next time.

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