What is a Bill of Sale?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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The bill of sale is a relatively simple legal document that transfers the title of an asset from one individual or entity to a new owner. In general, it includes the minimum information necessary to confirm that the transfer of the ownership of an asset has taken place. Also, the document affirms the fact that the transaction was conducted in a manner that was agreeable to all parties involved in the transaction.

This document emerged as a way to minimize the incidence of fraud, as well as limit the potential for illegally seizing property. The present basic format has its origins in the 19th century, and came about as a means of complying with regulations that were intended to prevent abuse of existing laws regarding the acquisition and holding or property, primarily land.

Essentially, the bill of sale today is a document that is drafted by the seller, and is couched inn verbiage that is intended to document all the pertinent details of the sale. Central to the structure is the names and identifying data related to both the buyer and seller. This will always include the legal name of the buyer and the seller, and may also include the permanent physical addresses of both parties. A brief description of the item that is being sold will also be included.


In the event that there are any identifying marks, such as a signature of the manufacturer or a serial number, that data is usually included in the bill of sale. A third essential component is the price of the item that was agreed upon by both parties, whether the remuneration is money or in exchange for some other asset. The document is considered complete and binding at the point in which both the buyer and the seller sign it.

There are actually two forms of this document. The absolute bill of sale is used when the transaction for the transfer of the title is considered complete. As a condition, the seller acknowledges receipt of payment, transfers title to the buyer, and relinquishes all claims on the property. The conditional bill of sale allows the seller to acquire control of some form of collateral and retain the asset until such time as the buyer fully renders the agreed upon payment for the purchased item. In the event of a default on the purchase agreement, this document is used to gain permanent title to the collateral.


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Post 6

How legally binding is a Bill of Sale? If no payment has been made, but a Bill of Sale has been signed, is the sale of said asset finalized?

Post 5

is it necessary to have internet connection in a showroom for a bill to be given to a customer?

Post 4

You probably could put in a clause about the seller supplying insurance for a specified period of time, such as for thirty days after the date of the bill of sale. But since there is no universal rule about this, you need to check with an attorney in your area and confirm this type of thing is legal and binding in your location.

Post 3

can someone put a statement that they will insure the sold vehicle until the buyer obtains insurance? Is this legal?

Post 2

First rule of thumb - never sign anything unless you fully understand and agree to the terms in the document. And don't sign anything that doesn't give you a bottom line price. It doesn't matter who you are doing business with. Even if it is someone you have known for years.

I'm afraid they may have you over a barrel here. But it would be worth talking to an attorney. Not knowing where you are located, I can't speak to local laws regarding consumer rights. There may be something in applicable consumer protection laws that would help you get out of this situation, or at least settle for a more reasonable price.

Post 1

I am so confused. We went to a carpet company due to a special. We brought in a rough of measurements. The guy put together an invoice of the carpets I wanted. I don't remember a total ever being on the document. anyway, I signed an area that I agreed to terms and conditions where the credit appeared. It had an approved stamped. The guy comes to measure. Sent guys out to put in the carpet. Then after 1 month we get a bill from the finance company that we have to pay 7K. We called the guy and he said the terms were different. Now after disputing, they are now saying the "amount" on the invoice is what we

have to pay as we signed the invoice. The invoice also stated the final price will be subject to actual measurements and sale prices. We never saw the measurements and I don't remember a price being on the "invoice" as we never got a copy of the invoice. Is this legal?

I can't see how we can pay a price on something like carpet when on the invoice there is no square footage just the prices and kinds I wanted which were three choices I had not picked at the time. I can't see it as a bill of sale but more of a proposal. They did lay carpet but without a price established other than an estimate put on the invoice prior to the "final measurements" by the company. That means anyone can charge whatever without being specific on what is purchased.

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