The proof of ownership is the TITLE. The current owner signs the back of
the title and fills in the mileage statement, signs the bill of sale and
hands the paperwork to the new owner. DONE. The transfer of ownership is
finished when the NEW OWNER goes to the DMV and files for a title in
There is NO requirement for the current owner (the OP in this case) to
What he did wrong was allow the person who got the car drive away with
HIS plates on the car.
What he should have done was pull the plates off, scrape the sticker off
the glass and THEN sign the title over. At that point the new owner is
responsible for getting his proof of insurance, title application and
registration application to the DMV within 30 days. Then HE owns the car
not the OP.
The OP NEVER has to go to the DMV if he doesn't want to. He can mail the
plates back if he chooses.
I already told you what happened to my neighbor when she didn't get
the title transfer done "officially" to protect herself.
And the State's Attorney told me the only way to protect yourself
when we chatted after I did the deposition as to the sale.
Illinois looks pretty much the same as NY in how title transfers are
Her plates and Chicago city sticker were removed from the car.
I did that myself.
Didn't make a difference. The VIN was on the car, the state of
Illinois had her as the title holder, and they came after her.
All this handing somebody your title and trusting them to do the right
thing is fine and dandy if you're dealing with an honest person.
The guy didn't do the transfer, but got drunk, smashed up 2 cars and
an old lady, then booked to Mexico. He either had no plates on the
car, or stolen plates.
The OP gave everything in his name to a joker with an arrest warrant
out on him.
So what do the cops and injured parties do even with no plates?
They look up the VIN in the state registration database, and come
after the owner.
If I hadn't witnessed the sale, everybody's assumption would have been
it was her car and it was her boyfriend driving it.
Because she was the titled owner.
It's really not hard to understand that, and that the bureaucrats who
write title transfer instructions and the cops, lawyers and State's
Attorneys are entirely different people.
You can follow your state's instruction on title transfers, but if the
buyer happens to not do his part, you can find yourself in deep doo
Your choice really.
A bill of sale and a witness to the transaction will protect you, but
IMO just getting the damned thing notarized and sent off to the state
when you do the transaction is the best way.
When things go wrong it's a big hassle. She was worried sick for
weeks, and who's to say her witness (me in this case) would still be
around and willing to testify.
I was grilled pretty good, and I was a professional with no criminal
record. I could see they were looking to trip me up.
Anybody can fabricate a bill of sale, and I really believe without my
testimony she would have been hurt bad. A totaled new Caddy and
old lady in the hospital all banged up get the cops and lawyers and
insurance companies all fired up.
That's why I ALWAYS bring the parties to a notary and get the title
transfer sent to the state when I buy or sell a car.
Why take a chance with this when you can do it right?
At a minimum, you need to get the plates back and have him sign your
copy of the Bill of Sale to prove that you sold it.
Otherwise, you have no proof that he bought it. If he gets parking
tickets, it's you on the hook as the registered owner.
If you put insurance back on the vehicle again, and the insurance
company finds out that you sold the vehicle to him, you give them an
excuse not to cover any loss.
I think that here in Texas, to be safe, you should walk the re-registration
through the tax office WITH the purchaser.. If you dont, you never know
what he or she is going to do.
It isnt law that you do this, but you would be much safer to do it.
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