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What Is a Bill of Sale?
A bill of sale, proof of purchase, proof of payment, As Is Bill of Sale, Proof of Sale, Sales Slip, or Sales Receipt, is a document or receipt used to transfer the ownership of an object such as a vehicle. This document becomes important when you need to buy or sell personal property. You may associate bills of sale with used vehicles, but you can use this document for a variety of items.
A bill of sale will detail a transfer of property or sale of items between a seller and buyer. This type of document serves as legal evidence that the seller transferred his or her rights to the assets described in the bill of sale.
A bill of sale must include key information such as the following:
- Names of the buyer and seller.
- Contact details.
- A description of the item(s) being sold.
- The price of the item(s).
- Methods of payment.
- Warranty details.
You'll typically see a bill of sale used to record the sale of automobiles, motorcycles, watercrafts, or other objects associated with transportation. You can also use a bill of sale to record the transfer of personal property, such as purchasing or selling a used car. A bill of sale is also useful for transfer of other personal property such as a bicycle, furniture, a laptop, or an animal such as a horse or other livestock.
This legal document records a transfer of ownership of an asset from one party to another. As a rule, the seller will draft the document. A bill of sale should include all details of the transaction as a way to protect both parties if a disagreement about the condition of the item or terms of the sale occurs. Since a bill of sale will include details about the condition of the item sold and any warranties, as well as terms of payment, this document acts as legal proof of the agreement.
When Should I Use a Bill of Sale?
You should use a bill of sale for the following circumstances:
- You own property you would like to sell and need to have a record of the purchase detail for accounting records. Examples of property include a motor vehicle (such as a car) or other personal property, but not real estate.
- You plan to purchase a motor vehicle or other property from a private seller, and you want to record the proof of purchase and the details of your agreement in writing.
- A proof of purchase is required. Many states will require a signed bill of sale in cases when you are transferring a title with a state's department of motor vehicles (DMV) or buying and selling branded livestock.
Some transactions involve an exchange of property but do not require a bill of sale, including the following:
- Real estate. You can't use a bill of sale to transfer real estate between owners because real estate transactions are more complicated than the types of transactions listed above. You will need additional forms from your state or local government, or a quit claim deed (a legal instrument used to transfer interest in real property) when you're dealing with a real estate transaction.
- Performance of services. A bill of sale transfers ownership, not services. If you're providing or obtaining a service such as business consulting or babysitting, you should instead use a general contract for these services. If you own a business that receives payment for selling products, a general receipt is sufficient.
- Small-scale sales. Although deciding whether you want a bill of sale for inexpensive property is a matter of personal preference, many people don't feel that creating a bill of sale for less expensive items is necessary. A bill of sale is not required for small-scale sales.
If you're not certain whether you need a bill of sale, you should consult an attorney . An attorney can help ensure you're using the correct document and are including all information that you need for your transaction.
Transferring Ownership of a Vehicle With a Bill of Sale
You must understand the intricacies of the bill of sale with motor vehicles if you plan to buy or sell an automobile. An automobile bill of sale represents that the right to ownership of the vehicle has been transferred. However, the vehicle's certificate of title represents the actual ownership. Every state requires this certificate of title, a document that records official proof of ownership of a vehicle.
If you are the purchaser of a vehicle, you can apply for a title in your name at your state's DMV when you have the signed bill of sale and pay a title transfer fee. In some states, the DMV requires a bill of sale signed by both the seller and the buyer. Some states require a notarized bill of sale as well.
Sale Contract vs. Bill of Sale
Make sure you understand the differences between a sale contract and a bill of sale when deciding which document you need.
A sale contract:
- Is executed between a buyer and seller.
- Details the terms for a buyer to agree to purchase an item and a seller to agree to sell it.
- Records the future sale of an item. A sale contract is used before an exchange of an item occurs.
A bill of sale:
- Transfers ownership.
- Provides details of the exact item a buyer will receive.
- Promises that the person selling the items has a valid title to the item as well as the right to transfer the title.
- May include warranties about the item sold and its future performance, or show that the item was sold "as is" and disclaim all warranties.
- Used during or after a product exchange.
Bill of Sale Templates
How Can I Write a Bill of Sale?
Some county tax assessor-collector's offices or local DMVs provide bill of sale forms that you can use. Some sellers also choose to create their own bill of sale. Since requirements vary by state, check your state's requirements to make certain your document complies with them. In some states, only the buyer needs to sign the bill of sale. Other states will require both the seller and buyer to sign. Requirements for notarization also vary among states.
Include the following essential pieces of information:
- Name and address of the seller.
- Name and address of the buyer.
- Date of transaction.
- Previous owner(s) (in other words, if someone first sold the item to the seller, this fact should be included).
Description of the item
- Identification number.
- Serial number.
- Any special marks or features.
- Any faults of the item.
- Special conditions to the sale (for example, if the item is sold as is or with warranty).
Additional information needed for vehicle sales
- VIN, or vehicle identification number.
- License plate number.
- Amount paid (write out in words and in numbers).
Method of payment.
- Did the buyer pay in installments or in full?
- Did the buyer pay with cash, credit card, bank deposit, or check?
Agreements (if applicable) concerning
- Deadlines for pending payments.
- Terms for late payments.
- Interest rates.
Before completing the transaction, make sure the bill of sale is completely legible and verify that all information and signatures are accurate. Finally, make copies of the document for both the buyer and the seller.
Protect yourself as either a buyer or seller with a carefully constructed bill of sale the next time you enter into a legal transaction.
Meet some of our Bill of Sale Lawyers
Alen Aydinian is a versatile attorney with over a decade of experience working with business owners and real estate professionals. Client engagement is central to a successful attorney/client relationship. Alen personally manages all client relationships so that his clients can see how their interests are being served at every stage of the process.
I help small business owners build and protect their dreams. I always thought that I would just be a litigator. Then I joined an intellectual property clinic in law school. We were helping nonprofits and small businesses reach their goals. I fell in love with the work and decided to open my own firm so I could keep helping them. When I decided to start Victrix Legal, I decided that it would be a modern law firm designed to serve professionals. It would be different from every other law firm. In my experience, my law firms are designed to promote inefficiency and reactionary lawyering. Because in most firms, you make more money when you spend more time on a project. And you lose money if your client doesn't get sued. In my opinion, that's a built-in conflict of interest. My firm is different. I use flat fees for most basic projects to keep costs predictable for you and incentivize efficiency. I offer long-term advisory plans and legal audits to prevent issues from happening. I want my clients to see me as their business partner, not just the guy they call when they are in trouble. If any of that interests you, please reach out to me. I offer free consultations. Let's set aside some time and talk about what your legal needs are.
My clients know me as more than just an attorney. First and foremost, my background is much broader than that. Prior to attending the Valparaiso University School of Law, I earned a Master of Business Administration and ran a small business as a certified public accountant. Thanks to this experience, I possess unique insight which in turn allows me to better assist my clients with a wide range of business and tax matters today. In total, I have over 20 years of experience in financial management, tax law, and business consulting, and I’m proud to say that I’m utilizing the knowledge I’ve gained to assist the community of Round Rock in a variety of ways. In my current practice, I provide counsel to small to medium-sized businesses, nonprofit organizations, and everyday individuals. Though my primary areas of practice are estate planning, elder law, business consulting, and tax planning, I pride myself on assisting my clients in a comprehensive manner. Whenever I take on a new client, I make an effort to get to know them on a personal level. This, of course, begins with listening. It is important that I fully understand their vision so I can help them successfully translate it into a concrete plan of action that meets their goals and expectations. I appreciate the individual attributes of each client and know firsthand that thoughtful, creative, and customized planning can maximize both financial security and personal happiness. During my time as a certified public accountant, I cultivated an invaluable skill set. After all, while my legal education has given me a deep understanding of tax law, I would not be the tax attorney I am today without my background in accounting. Due to my far-reaching experience, I am competent in unraveling even the most complex tax mysteries and disputes. My CPA training benefits my estate planning practice, too. In the process of drafting comprehensive wills and trusts, I carefully account for every asset and plan for any tax burdens that may arise, often facilitating a much smoother inheritance for the heirs of my clients. Prior to becoming certified as a CPA, I made sure to establish a solid foundation in business both in and out of the classroom, and the acumen I’ve attained has served me well. Not only am I better able to run my own practice than I otherwise would be; I am able to help other small business owners fulfill their dreams, as well.
Hello! I am a young attorney with four years' experience in real estate transactions, fund formation, and general corporate transactional work. I graduated in 2016 from the University of Texas - Austin and I am barred in Texas.
James David W.
I graduated from Harvard Law School and worked first for a federal judge and then a leading DC firm before starting a firm with a law school classmate. My practice focuses on company formations, early-stage investments, and mergers & acquisitions.
After 21 years as an in-house attorney for both large and small organizations, I formed Osensky Law in 2017 to bring my unique in-house counsel insights to entrepreneurs and smaller businesses. Unlike a traditional law firm, my focus is on delivering the kind of legal support a business wants and needs - not just technically correct legal advice, but strategic problem-solving with a focus on providing business value to clients. Since earning my law degree with honors from Tulane University Law School, I worked as in-house counsel for large multinational companies such as Georgia-Pacific and MCI, as well as smaller organizations including Georgia Technology Authority and Georgia Tech. This unique combination of experience allows me to bring together the best practices of all of them. I have led multi-disciplinary teams to achieve important business goals and have successfully negotiated many multi-million dollar deals. Now, as a business owner myself, I can relate to my clients and understand the challenges they face. I have an established reputation for providing practical advice and perspectives based on my legal training combined with over 20 years of practical hands-on experience as a business lawyer and leader. Today, with my firm Osensky Law, I advise clients on starting a new business, buying or selling a small business, and doing business with contracts.
G'day, my name is Michele! I work with startups, entrepreneurs and small/medium-sized businesses across the country in a wide array of industries. I help them with all of their ongoing, daily legal needs. This includes entity formation, M&A, contract drafting and review, employment, asset sale & acquisition, and business sales or shareholder exits. I'm half-Australian, half-Italian, and I've lived the last 20+ years of my life in America. I've lived all over the USA, completing high school in the deep south, graduating cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis, and then cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center. After law school I worked for the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins, LLP. After four intense and rewarding years there, I left to become General Counsel and VP of an incredible, industry-changing start-up called Urban Mining Company (UMC) that manufactures rare earth permanent magnets. I now work for Phocus Law where I help run our practice focused on entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs. I love what I do, and I'd love to be of help! My focus is on providing stress-free, enjoyable, and high-quality legal service to all of my clients. Being a good lawyer isn't enough: the client experience should also be great. But work isn't everything, and I love my free time. I've been an avid traveler since my parents put me on a plane to Italy at 9-months old. I'm also a music nut, and am still looking for that perfect client that will engage me to explain why Dark Side Of The Moon is the greatest album of all time. Having grown up in a remote, and gorgeous corner of Australia, I feel a strong connection to nature, and love being in the elements.