Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CRAWFORD COUNTY Honorable Scott L.
E. SCOTT, JUDGE.
conclude that spousal-beneficiary designations on Department
of Revenue (DOR) title certificates were ineffective after
the marriage was dissolved, and therefore affirm a judgment
declaring the titled assets to be property of the respondent
and Procedural Background
2004-05, Matthew McWilliams acquired a bass boat, motor, and
two trailers. All were solely titled in Matthew's name
with his wife Lisa as transfer-on-death (TOD) beneficiary per
§§ 301.681.1 & 306.461.1 (collectively
"titled assets"). When their marriage was
dissolved, Matthew was awarded the titled assets, but did not
re-title them or change the beneficiary designations. After
Matthew died intestate, Lisa claimed the titled assets based
on the TOD provisions. Respondents disagreed, citing §
If, after an owner makes a beneficiary designation, the
owner's marriage is dissolved or annulled, any provision
of the beneficiary designation in favor of the owner's
former spouse … is revoked on the date the marriage is
dissolved or annulled…. The beneficiary designation
shall be given effect as if the former spouse … had
disclaimed the revoked provision.
probate division ruled in respondents' favor after a
de facto discovery-of-assets trial on stipulated
facts. Lisa appeals.
designations are authorized and largely governed by RSMo
chapter 461, Missouri's Nonprobate Transfers Law (MNTL).
Prior to 1995, DOR titles were exempt from most of the MNTL,
including § 461.051's nullification of spousal TODs
upon marriage dissolution.
1995, however, DOR titles became subject to § 461.051 as
part of a major MNTL rewrite. See § 461.073.5
(1995 supp. and currently) and 1995 Committee Comment
("[§] 461.051 (dealing with marriage dissolution)
… [is] made applicable to certificates of ownership or
title issued by the director of revenue…."); 4A
Mo. Practice, Probate and Surrogate Laws Manual §
461.073 (2d ed. & 2017 supp.).
Points and Analysis
summarize and address Lisa's three claims of error as
Lisa urges that § 461.073 "specifically
excludes" DOR title certificates from the MNTL, so
§ 461.051 cannot apply to this case. As shown above,
this may have been ...