Skip to main content

What are the pros and cons of putting the title of my car in a trust---or is that even necessary in California?

El Toro, CA |

My question is, should I put the title of my car in a trust?

Couldn't I just have the title of the trust changed to read ---""Jane Doe (and/or) John Doe""---and accomplish the same thing in California?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

I don't generally advise CA clients to put a car in a Trust just because it is so easy to transfer title with DMV. Everything else should fund the Trust but, unless it is for creditor protection purposes, I don't see the need to title every car in the Trust. As you see here, opinions vary.

If you liked this answer, click on the thumbs up! Thanks. Eliz. C. A. Johnson Post Office Box 8 Danville, California 94526-0008 Legal disclaimer: I do not practice law in any state but California. As such, any responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to a general understanding of law in California and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.


You could put your car title in a trust in CA. Then your child/grandchild/POSSLQ could sell it with joint title, and you would have no remedy.

Why not put them on your checking account, house, and financial accounts, too? You don't put the title of your car in a trust that because you want to control your affairs while you are alive, and let someone else control your affairs after you are not. The Trust is a good vehicle for that, but only if you use it. The Trust is pretty weak if it has no assets for the successor to manage. If your Trust is written well, everything will end up there eventually, but it is more work for someone else on the back end. Do the legwork, reap the benefits, and relax.

Legal analysis is for general information, based upon the limited facts provided. Comments are not intended to constitute binding legal advice.


I routinely advise my clients to title each car in the name of the person who most frequently drives that car. In Michigan It isn't terribly difficult to transfer a vehicle after death. So keeping the vehicle in an individual name isn't an issue here. Check with your DMV to see if they have a simple out-of-court procedure to transfer a vehicle to a surviving spouse or heir.

There are risks involved with joint names on vehicles. It can put the non-driver co-owner in the position of being a defendant in an injury lawsuit. If the driver is the only owner, then he/she will be the sole defendant. If other assets, like real estate, are title jointly with the spouse (tenants by the entireties) they could be protected from execution on judgment. That is the law here in Michigan. Check with an attorney in your state.

This answer is not specific legal advise. No attorney client relationship has been established. It is general commentary on the question presented, without the benefit of a full disclosure of all relevant facts. Seek an in-person consultation with a licensed professional.