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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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Hello, I naively sold a car privately yesterday without

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I naively sold a car privately yesterday without following all the proper procedures or filling out the proper paperwork. I have no Bill of Sale and the Only proof of the transaction I have is the Release of Liability form on top of the title. I also signed the title over to the new owner, but did not date it or fill in the mileage.

The buyer also filled out his portion of the Release of Liability, but I never checked his ID to confirm the address. I later looked up the address and it was false. Also, he never filled out his portion of the title papers, which has me worried that he plans to resell or leave it in my name.

I submitted the Release of Liability online through the DMV, but I read that the car will remain in my name until the transfer is complete.

How can I fully release my liability from the vehicle? I have since researched horror stories of previous owners having to pay for tickets or registration years down the road. Worse yet, if the car is involved in any illegal activity,m such as a hit and run, I could still be liable.

Is there any way I can completely get myself out of this mess if the new buyer never transfers the title.

Thank you.

Hi Victor,

I'm sorry to hear about this situation.

Are you saying that you have filed a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability with the DMV?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes, but I have no way of knowing whether the buyer's information is correct or hither or not he transfers the car into his name
The law provides that once you file this document (found at:, then you will be protected from future criminal and civil liability on the car.

You've pointed out that you are worried that you did not actually list the person's correct identification on the Release and did not have his correct address. Yet, you relied on the address and information that he provided to you during the sale. This should be enough to qualify you for protection.

The only other thing you can do is to file a declaratory judgment action with the court and ask the court to declare that you are no longer the title owner under the sale. You would have to do this in the superior court and would probably need to hire a lawyer. Since you can not locate the buyer, you would have to sue him and seek notice by publication (which would best be obtained by an attorney).
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Is that next step necessary since you said the submission of the Release is enough to clear me of any liability?

I was unsure about his because I also read that the title remains in my name and I could still be liable if the title is never transferred.

Last couple questions,

Is submitting the release, in your opinion, enough to sleep easy and be protected?

Should I keep the car insured until I have proof that it is out of my name?

Thank you for your advice.



The filing of the Release should be enough to keep you out of trouble. Now, since the title won't be switched, you may still be called to court on a non-DMV related issue (i.e., a wreck that injures someone). In that case, you would show the court (or the attorney who has contacted you) that you filed the Release, and that will get you out of the case.

Is it enough for you to be able to relax? I think so, that is exactly what the statute was written to do. I wish a lot more states had procedures like this.

In regard to keeping the car insured, once you have submitted the release and checked to make sure that the DMV has accepted it, you can then drop the insurance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
You have been an excellent help and I feel a little better now. It's still a little unsettling that a stranger with a false address is driving around a car in my name.

Last question, is it my responsibility to verify the buyer's identification at the time of sale. If not, I think I should be free from liability.
No, it's not your job. It's the buyer's job to provide you with a proper identification and its the buyer's job to go register the title.
TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience: Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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