Motor Vehicle Bill of Sale

There are many advantages to buying or selling a used car privately. A private sale often means that the seller earns more money while the buyer pays less money since there are no third parties, such as car dealerships, taking a cut of the sale price. However, in order to complete a private sale of an automobile it is important to create a legal Motor Vehicle Bill of Sale that protects the interests of both the buyer and seller.
How to Write a Motor Vehicle Bill of Sale
In most cases a motor vehicle bill of sale can be written without the help of an attorney. Preprinted forms, or templates, provide you with a guide to the information that should be contained in a motor vehicle bill of sale. It is important, however, that you use a form that is specific to your state so that you can ensure that it meets all of the legal requirements in your state.
Generally, a motor vehicle bill of sale contains the following information:
  • Information About the Vehicle: including, the vehicle identification number, year, make and model. Some motor vehicle bills of sale also include the odometer reading and title number of the vehicle.
  • Information About the Sale: including the sale date and sale price
  • Information About the Buyer: including the buyer’s name, driver’s license number, date of birth and mailing address
  • Information About the Seller: including the seller’s name, driver’s license number, date of birth and mailing address.
  • Sale Conditions: if there are any special conditions involved in your sale such as a down payment due on a certain date and the balance due within a certain number of days or if the buyer has the right to have the car inspected by his own mechanic and the right to return the care within a certain number of days, without penalty, based on his mechanic’s report then those conditions should be included in the written bill of sale.
  • Sale Warranties: some motor vehicle bills of sale contain clauses that have certain warranties by the seller such as that the odometer reading is true and accurate, that the owner has legal title to the car and, that there are no known vehicle defects that were not disclosed to the buyer.
How to Execute a Motor Vehicle Bill of Sale
Once a motor vehicle bill of sale has been drafted and contains all of the requirements necessary to execute a motor vehicle bill of sale in your state then it is time to execute the document and finalize the transaction. In most states, a motor vehicle bill of sale is executed when both the seller and the buyer sign the document and their signatures are notarized by a notary public or other authorized person. The person acknowledging the signatures of the buyer and seller must also sign the document and affix any seal or other information relating to his or her authority to witness motor vehicle bills of sale.
If you are in the market to buy or sell a motor vehicle then it is important to carefully review the general requirements above and the specific requirements for your state in order to make sure that the sale is legally binding and enforceable.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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