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Estate of Liebe.

2023 COA 55. No. 22CA1076. Inter Vivos Gifts—Transfer of Vehicle Title.

June 15, 2023

Ducray is the daughter of decedent Liebe and personal representative of his estate. Liebe treated Hunter as his adoptive daughter. While in intensive care, Liebe told Hunter that he wanted her to have his 2021 Ford Bronco. He then arranged for a video call with Ducray, his employee Edwards, and Hunter and her husband, during which Liebe effectively repeated his intent to give the Bronco to Hunter by informing Ducray why he was not gifting it to her. Liebe died intestate without transferring the Bronco’s title. Ducray refused to transfer the Bronco’s title to Hunter in the probate proceedings. Hunter asked the district court to order Ducray to sign the Bronco title over to Hunter, and the district court so ordered.

On appeal, Ducray contended that Liebe never transferred title to the Bronco as required to complete a gift, so the district court erred by recognizing the gift to Hunter. Title may be required to register a motor vehicle, but a line of Colorado cases holds that certificate of title is not necessary to determine vehicle ownership. Accordingly, transfer of title is not required to effectuate a gift of a vehicle. Here, the district court observed that Liebe lay intubated in a hospital’s COVID-19 isolation ward and could not have visitors, so it was unrealistic to expect him to execute and deliver a car title. The court concluded that Liebe’s announcement on the video call that he was giving the Bronco to Hunter and directing Edwards to deliver the keys to Hunter were sufficient to complete the gift. The record shows that Liebe’s videotaped instructions were clear and unambiguous, and Liebe made a valid gift during his lifetime of the Bronco to Hunter that was completed without titling the vehicle in Hunter’s name. Accordingly, the district court did not err.

The order was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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