A bill of sale is a legal document that documents a transfer of ownership from one party to another (known as seller and buyer) and transfers ownership rights legally to the buyer. It is also referred to as a promissory note or a bill of exchange.
It details the conditions of sale between a seller and a buyer. It is an essential part of any transaction and ensures that both parties in the deal are protected. People looking to sell things in a garage sale or online must have this document to show that they owned what they were selling before selling it.
You can find and create your bill of sale template to match what you are selling. If you are the buyer, you can talk to your seller to include any vital information you feel necessary it. Although it’s not a common practice, some states require the document to be notarized.
Mandatory Requirements in a Bill of Sale
Before writing a bill of sale, you should know its purpose and its mandatory requirements. This information is listed below.
- Seller and purchaser information: There must also be a signature from the seller. However, a buyer’s signature is only required for a commercial sale or a dealership.
- Complete vehicle information: For vehicle purchases, the bill of sale should have vehicle description details, including the vehicle identification number, the model and make, and the manufacturing year.
- Details of the sale: Whether it’s a vehicle or something else, you must note the purchase date and price on the bill of sale.
- The condition in which the items are in during the sale: Will the items be sold as is, or will the seller take responsibility for repairs in case of any damage? Is there any warranty to accompany the item? If so, how long is the warranty? Even though some items, especially new equipment, come with a separate warranty, in some cases, it also acts as a warranty. This is typically seen with equipment already used.
Purposes of a Bill of Sale
- To provide tangible evidence that a transaction occurred between a buyer and a seller. With a bill of sale in place, it shows that a particular possession was exchanged for money or goods. If the sale were of land, a bill of sale would ensure that there won’t be any problems with the land title during the transfer of the land title to the buyer.
- To form the basis of an agreement in case disputes arise after the sale. This is especially necessary when the buyer purchases goods such as furniture or vehicles from a private entity/individual. The bill of sale should include information on who will be responsible for repairs of the item in case of damage within a short period after the purchase. You can speak to a lawyer to provide legal advice on your responsibilities after the purchase.
- It establishes the owner of an item and when they bought it. During purchase, you are essentially taking possession and transferring ownership to yourself, and the seller relinquishes their responsibility on the item. Should there be any misunderstanding or disputes about the purchased item’s owner, the bill of sale shall be produced and evidence of ownership.
Before we dive into examples of a bill of sale, let’s look at circumstances when you would need a bill of sale.
- When transferring ownership of something.
- When collecting money from someone for an item you’ve sold to them.
- When giving permission to someone to use something you own. Even if this person is someone you know really well, consider writing a bill of sale stating their responsibilities during the time they are in possession of your item.
Bill of sale Examples
There are many examples of bill of sales available. However, in this article, we look at 3 examples of the most common types of a bill of sale.
Vehicle bill of sale example
For a motor vehicle bill of sale, note the following information.
There should be information based on the location the sale took place, the parties involved(other than their names, there should also be their mailing addresses), the payment method used( as there are three payment methods available as shown in the template, always choose one mode of payment as the buyer), vehicle description details( the VIN is always 17 characters), any taxes made about the sale, and the signatures of the seller, buyer, and witness if there was one at the scene but not mandatory. It is also essential to include any other information regarding the purchase.
As a buyer, if you don’t know the seller personally, conduct a quick check-up with the motor vehicle departments to ensure that no one else lays claim to the vehicle before you purchase it.
See the template below:
Boat bill of sale example
Although slightly different from the vehicle bill of sale, the mandatory information should also be included. You’ll see from the template attached that the location is not mandatory. However, information such as the amount the buyer agreed to pay and the boat information is essential. For this sale, witnesses should also be present to sign the bill. One from the seller and another from the buyer. You may consider hiring a legal representative to guide you through this process and have them sign on the bill as your witness.
Check out the template below:
Equipment bill of sale example
Although there is no information about the seller and buyer in the example template attached for the equipment sale, remember to include the mandatory information stated in the article in all sales bills you intend to use. Different bills of sales vary depending on what’s being sold. However, they can be customized as per the convenience of the buyer and seller. Also, the most important thing is the authenticity of the information provided by both parties.
A bill of sale for equipment requires that the agreed purchase amount also be documented. Even though it is not required for all equipment purchases, especially low-value items, for high-value items, it is a mandatory requirement as legally required.
See the template below:
Whether you are the buyer or seller, ensure you authenticate the information the other party provides. You can ask for their identity card to verify that their names and address match what they have provided to you.
What Happens If You Don’t Use a Bill of Sale?
Using a bill of sale no doubt adds to more paperwork you may be trying to cut down on. Therefore, it is no surprise that sometimes, you might be tempted to sell an item in your possession without a bill of sale because it might seem like a lot of work to draw it up and keep it in your record. However, have you thought about what would happen if the one time you don’t write it is time you end up with a lawsuit? Let’s look at what happens if you don’t use a bill of sale.
You may face a lawsuit as a seller should an issue arise after the sale. In a scenario where you sell your vehicle without a bill of sale and the vehicle has an accident. Unfortunately, if someone gets injured or dies, you will be running in or out of court for something you didn’t do that costs you thousands of dollars to get out of. A simple bill of sale stating the transfer of ownership from you to the buyer would have saved these costs.
You may lose something you paid hundreds of dollars to own as a buyer. Sometimes, you may buy things from friends or loved ones and assume that you can trust them completely and therefore don’t see the need for a bill of sale. What if your friend or loved one decided to get back the item they sold you by saying it was stolen? Legally, if they provide a bill of sale on their end showing that they purchased the item, then the item is returned to them with no questions asked. In such a scenario, you lose a friend and the money you used to purchase the item because you trusted blindly.
As both parties (buyer and seller), you face misunderstandings you don’t know how to resolve. Earlier in the article, we mentioned that the bill of sale should include information about the warranty or sale of items “as is”. Misunderstandings may arise when the item you sold/bought breaks down, and you don’t know who should cater for the repairs needed. Having a bill of sale stating each party’s responsibilities lessens the work and pressure that may arise.
A bill of sale is an essential document that, other than stating the information of both the seller/buyer, contains other vital information. Once you follow all the guidelines stated in this article, then you are sure that you will have a smooth transition when selling/buying items. This article covers all the basics you need to know about a bill of sale with examples and why you should ensure that everything you sell or buy is accompanied by one.