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Should I Transfer My Michigan Vehicles to My Trust?

If the total value of your vehicles is less than $60,000 and you are fine with your surviving spouse or heirs receiving the automobiles, we generally do not recommend transferring the titles to your vehicles in Michigan into your revocable trust as part of your estate plan, for the following reasons:

  1. There is a specific law in Michigan allowing your surviving spouse or heirs to acquire your vehicles (valued at less than $60,000) by simply bringing a copy of your death certificate to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office and filling out Form TR-29 – Certificate From the Heir to a Vehicle. This procedure is only available if a probate estate is not opened in your name. But if all of your other assets are owned jointly or placed in your trust, there shouldn’t be a need for a probate estate and Form TR-29 can be used.
  2. If you have a joint revocable trust with your spouse and transfer your vehicles to your trust, you may lose creditor protection in the case of an accident, especially if you forget to change the insured party on your liability insurance policy.
  3. When a vehicle is transferred in Michigan, 6% use tax on its value is supposed to be paid to the Secretary of State. It is not clear whether or not retitling the automobile to your trust is exempt from the transfer tax, so we recommend not transferring title if not necessary.¹

But if the total value of all your vehicles is more than $60,000, or if you want them to go to someone other than your surviving spouse or heirs, it may make sense to complete a transfer to your trust. If you have any questions, please call attorney Adam Zuwerink at 231-457-4235, or email to, and we would be happy to review your specific situation.