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Donating a Car, Truck or Boat to Charity? Read this first

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: December 18, 2013

Part of your estate plan should include how to take care of vehicles, such as cars, trucks, boats, ATVs or golf carts that are in your possession. It can be more complicated to leave vehicles to a friend or relative in Washington, since it does not allow transfer-on-death registration of vehicles.

In some states, you can register a vehicle with a transfer-on-death title that names the beneficiary. This step allows you to take care of the vehicle before your death and avoid putting it through probate, where the vehicle can sit for weeks or months. To avoid additional probate costs by putting vehicles through probate, you can donate them instead.

When you donate a vehicle to charity, they handle the paperwork and pick up the vehicle. Charities advertise for vehicle donations because it’s an easy way for individuals to offload a car or truck that they don’t want to go to the trouble of selling.

You can also receive a tax deduction at the time of donation based on the vehicle’s resale value, if the charity you choose is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.

The benefit to the charity comes from the sale of the vehicle at auction, so the better shape the vehicle is in, the more benefit to the charity. Of course, some charities may fix up the car to give to an individual for use, or use it in operations. Use will vary depending on the charity’s mission.

Over the past 21 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped more than 800 clients prepare and utilize simple and effective planning techniques to protect them and their families in order to avoid probate, save estate taxes, save money and save added emotional burden that comes from long term illness and/or death of a family member. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation to find out how we can help you and your family.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More