When should I use a bill of sale?

By | May 13, 2008

Many people think that a bill of sale is not necessary when selling an antique table or the old junk car in the backyard. However, a bill of sale should be used when any personal property is disposed of. It is a necessary contract to protect both parties. The bill of sale sets out the terms upon which the agreement was reached. It lists the full names and addresses of the seller and the buyer, the agreed upon sale price, the full identification of the item being sold, the date of the sale, and the condition of the property upon the transfer.

This form protects both buyer and seller from later disagreements. For instance, when a simple bill of sale form is written for the private sale of a car, the phrase “as seen, as is” is most often noted. This means that if the car is taken away from the seller’s property and two weeks later something goes wrong, the buyer cannot, under normal circumstances, hold the seller responsible, as the vehicle was purchased without any warranties. It is important to note, however, that information purposely withheld from the buyer or seller during a sale will render a bill of sale invalid in many cases. An example of this would be if the seller was representing that an antique was worth far more than its actual appraisal and the buyer later found out the true value. Even though the seller might have been less than truthful, a court would also note that the buyer most likely had every chance for an appraisal before signing a formal agreement and making the purchase. Therefore, it is important to have a bill of sale drafted when entering into personal transactions to make both parties aware of the terms and disclosures before the sale is final, giving each party the right to add clauses and ask questions before signing.

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