Nevada allows owners of a vehicle to designate to whom their vehicle will pass upon the owners death. This is called a “transfer on death” (TOD) designation and allows ownership of the vehicle to pass quickly and outside of probate. This is similar to “payable on death” (POD) designations on financial accounts, which are quite common.
Over time, more states have adopted a procedure for a vehicle to transfer automatically upon death and outside of probate. Colorado appears to have been the most recent.
The Colorado General Assembly, in its 2016 session, gave the Colorado Department of Revenue a homework assignment: Develop a new form by which the owner of a motor vehicle can designate a beneficiary to receive title to the vehicle at the owner’s death.
At the death of the owner, a named beneficiary will be able to present this form, along with a death certificate, to the county clerk’s motor vehicle department and obtain a new title certificate, subject to any liens outstanding against the vehicle. Without this form, unless the vehicle is owned in joint tenancy, in which case the surviving joint tenant can also obtain a new title by presenting a death certificate, a post-death transfer of title to a motor vehicle is, at best, a cumbersome process, possibly requiring an otherwise unnecessary probate action.
Nevada has allowed for TOD for vehicles since since 2007, and is codified in NRS 482.247:
The owner or joint owners of a motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer may request the Department [of Motor Vehicles] to issue a certificate of title in beneficiary form for the motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer, as applicable, which includes a directive to the Department to transfer the certificate of title upon the death of the owner or upon the death of all joint owners to a beneficiary named on the face of the certificate of title.
In simpler terms, the DMV must provide, upon request, a form which designates a beneficiary to which the car passes automatically upon death. The process is fairly simple. Prior to death, the owner of a vehicle fills out a “Transfer on Death Application” from the Nevada DMV.
From the Transfer on Death Application:
Transfer on Death allows vehicle owners to add or remove a beneficiary to their title. The vehicle owner must be an individual, not a business. Only three vehicle owners and the beneficiary can be listed on a certificate of title. A title fee, the certificate of title, and this application must be submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles to make this change. A new Nevada certificate of title will be issued with the beneficiary’s name and the “Transfer on Death” designation.
Only one name can be listed on the certificate of title as the beneficiary. A beneficiary cannot be added to the title when there is a lienholder or ownership is designated as “Tenants in Common.” The beneficiary does not have interest or control of the vehicle. If a lienholder or lessor is added to the title at a later time, the beneficiary will be removed from the title.
To transfer the ownership to the beneficiary, the beneficiary must submit the title (if available), title fee, and certified death certificate of the vehicle’s legal owner(s). If more than one owner is on the title, the beneficiary cannot become the vehicle owner until all owners are deceased.