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What Is a Bill of Sale?
Bill of sale forms are used to record the transition of ownership over certain goods from one party to another. Such documents act as legally binding contracts and specify all details about the transaction itself and the goods being sold. For instance, a motor vehicle bill of sale would include information about the car’s body type, VIN code, odometer disclosure, and other details.
Bills of sale can be used when selling any type of property, from cheap consumer goods to boats and RVs. Filling a bill of sale isn’t always mandatory when selling or buying items; depending on the state (sometimes even the country) and the type of property, you may not need to use this document at all. However, recording transaction details with a bill of sale is always a good idea, since it’s a legally recognized paper.
Whether you are buying or selling goods, read the bill closely and ensure that it contains all necessary details. Although such bills are not identical to contracts, both sides still should review the information carefully and confirm that it’s 100% accurate.
Why Use Bills of Sale?
Remember that bills of sale don’t prove ownership; instead, such documents officially record an occurrence of a transaction along with information about the buyer and the seller. This is an essential point to consider, especially when purchasing used items. To avoid buying stolen goods and guarantee that the seller holds ownership over an object being sold, always demand a bill of sale.
Unfortunately, cases of fraud are observed quite frequently when there’s no bill of sale applied, so make sure to use this document for any transaction. You should also provide it when selling your own property. Let’s consider the following example: you’ve sold a gun to an individual who later used that firearm to commit a crime. If there is a bill of sale to prove the transaction, you won’t be held responsible for providing the weapon to the criminal. However, if there’s no document to support your claims, you may face legal consequences as the owner of the gun.
Essential Terms on a Bill of Sale
Here are some of the most important legal terms you’ll find on a bill of sale:
- A person or people who are about to sell a certain item in their possession for an established sum of money. All information about the seller, such as his or her name and address, is included in this section.
- A person or people who are about to obtain an item through purchasing it. This section includes the buyer’s personal details (commonly, address and name).
- As Is. In bills of sale, “As Is” suggests that the seller isn’t providing any warranty for the item sold.
- The amount of money to be paid for the item. Bill of sale forms rarely include subtotals, specifying the total price only. In some states, the sides must detail the price in both numbers and words, though this requirement is not prevalent all over the U.S.
- Form of payment. This section indicates the transaction method that will be used to make the purchase. Bills of sale allow using any payment method, including cash, checks, and money orders.
- Sales tax. It defines the amount of taxes and the side responsible for paying them.
- This section specifies all details about the item being sold, including the date of transfer and the availability of warranties. Mind that buyers purchasing goods “as is” must be provided with an opportunity to examine the items before paying for them.
- Witness information. Witnesses aren’t necessarily involved when signing a bill of sale. However, if there is a public notary or an independent third party present, their personal information is specified in this section.
- Bills of sale can be used to transfer items as gifts. Goods sold this way fall under specific tax conditions for the year when they change ownership.
- Trade-in. The parties can choose a trade-in option to exchange goods. A trade-in bill of sale specifies the value of each transferred item to guarantee fair transaction for both sides.
Things to Include on the Bill of Sale
When designing a bill of sale, make sure that it follows specific requirements of your state and county. If some details are missing, the bill will not be considered valid and won’t have any legal power. State-approved forms can be found on the official website of the respective state. One can also obtain physical bill of sale forms from local authorities. For instance, the forms for cars are available at local Departments of Motor Vehicles.
If you are searching for free document templates online, make sure that they follow official requirements. Some forms may fail to include all necessary elements, such as fields to write the names or addresses of parties. The more details you can fit on a bill of sale, the better, so try to specify as much information as possible. If there are spaces for email addresses and telephone numbers, fill them in as well.
Property details are an essential part of any bill of sale, so make sure that the chosen form includes enough room to describe them all. If there’s more than one item involved, this section would include information about all the transferred items. You may need to create a separate list of goods, so the template should provide this possibility.
Lastly, check for financial information about the deal. A decent template should contain spaces designed for:
- the amount paid by the buyer
- the time of the transaction
- the amount of sales tax (if any)
- the payment method stipulated by the parties
If the transferred item is a gift or there’s a trade-in involved, make sure that the form includes a respective checkbox.
If you aren’t sure where to search for a trustworthy base of state-approved bill of sale forms, consider checking our library. We offer an array of printable bill of sale forms in PDF for you to download absolutely free of charge. You don’t even need to register to access the base.
Advantages of Bills of Sale
Bills of sale provide multiple advantages for both sides. Here are just a few of those benefits:
- Bills of sale are simple to find, print out, and fill in, which allows using them under any circumstances.
- Bills of sale don’t require engaging any third parties to be considered legally valid.
- Sellers can make use of the “As Is” field. It ensures that the seller isn’t responsible for any damage to the goods sold.
- Bills of sale can be used as supportive documents in one’s tax declaration. They can also be used for accounting purposes, as these documents contain all necessary information.
- Banks and authorities view bills of sale as proof of ownership to personal assets. Holding a valid bill allows you to qualify for a bank loan or register a used car with ease.
- Bills of sale help prevent conflicts over the rights of ownership. Since they cover all details of the transaction along with the signatures of both sides, these papers don’t leave any space for disputes.