Motor Vehicle Title Transfer Tip



Each day we have to work smarter to do a better job of protecting ourselves from thieves and from unfortunate situations. When a person sells their car to a private party there are necessary steps one needs to take after completion of the bill of sale. Although we offer you a quick tip below, if you have concerns or questions about completing the transfer of a title you should contact your local Department of Licensing. Laws and procedures may also vary by state.

When you sell your automobile you need to quickly submit the title transfer releasing your interest to the Department of Licensing. Generally on the bottom of the title transfer form it instructs you to submit the title transfer information within 3 days of the sale of the car. Some people who sell their car rely on the buyer to complete that process, but by doing so the seller of the vehicle is leaving the door open for potential liability.

The worst case scenario would be if the new owner of your old vehicle gets into an automobile accident, and injures or kills another person. When the accident occurred, if your name is still showing as the owner of the vehicle you could be held liable! The same is true if you allow an uninsured person to drive your vehicle or an underinsured person.

Some individuals who purchase a vehicle deliberately don't intend to transfer the title of the vehicle into their name, which is illegal, but easy enough for them to pull off. Therefore, if you as the seller do not submit the proper document to the Department of Licensing, don't bet on the new owner doing that for you!

Here's one example of one such nightmare that a friend of ours experienced. His van was getting old and tired and he sold it to a private party with the understanding that the van was no longer in good running condition. Post completion of the bill of sale, he did not go to the Department of Licensing to get the transfer completed, nor did the new owner.

A month or so later our friend suddenly received notification from a towing company attempting to collect $2,000.00 from him. The reason? Our friend never legally released his interest in the vehicle and now he was being held liable. Apparently the van broke down, and the new owner of the vehicle didn't have the funds to fix the vehicle so he left it parked at the side of the road. It doesn't take long for a vehicle to end up in an impound yard, and someone has to pay the bill for each day it is there! In this case the towing company was contacting who they believed was the owner of the car, and who technically was still showing as the legal owner with the Department of Licensing!

Our friend was able to produce a copy of his bill of sale to the towing company, and fortunately they were kind enough to not hold him liable for the towing and impound yard storage fees. Although he was fortunate he had quite a few phone calls and hours into getting himself out of the mess. He was also lucky that it was only a towing company that he had to deal with. Things could have been worse. For example, if the new owner of the van had been involved in an auto accident resulting in injury or death, our friend could have been faced with terrible consequences.

In summary, be sure to quickly release your interest in your sold vehicle by submitting the appropriate forms to the Department of Licensing. Generally the form to release your interest is attached to the title, and you will want to make sure you tear off that portion before releasing the title to the new owner.

A quick trip to the Department of Licensing may save you from a huge hassle, potential financial liability, and the potential responsibility for the lives of those injured or killed in an automobile accident which you did not commit. Take the time to safeguard yourself when you sell your vehicle!

© October 2006 Author: Tammara Nelson
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