A bill of sale is a document that verifies your purchase, and therefore your ownership of, a valuable asset such as a car, a TV or other large item. Not only does the bill of sale prove you legally own the item, it may be used to determine how much sales tax you pay. It also releases the seller from liability [source: DMV Guide] and protects both buyer and seller from any disputes that may arise over the item in the future [source: Cooper].

Rules for bills of sale vary from state to state. For example, Michigan doesn't require a bill of sale when buying or selling a car. [source: DMV Guide]

You may be able to get a bill of sale form from your local department of motor vehicles or from your county tax assessor-collector's office. You can also write out your own bill of sale.

When writing a bill of sale, be sure to include:

  • The seller's name and address
  • The buyer's name and address
  • A description of the item being sold, including serial numbers, identification numbers, make, model, size, color, design, any distinguishing marks, features or faults [source: Cooper].
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN) and license plate number (if you're writing it for a vehicle)
  • Special conditions to the sale (e.g. sold as is, with warranty, etc.) [source: Cooper]
  • The date of transaction
  • The previous owner (who sold it to the seller)
  • The amount paid (written in words and in numerals)
  • The method of payment (i.e. in installments or in full, cash, check, credit card or bank deposit)
  • Any agreements regarding due dates for pending payments, late payments and interest rates

Check your bill of sale for the following:

  • Make sure the bill of sale is legible.
  • Double-check all information and signatures on the bill of sale.
  • Make copies of the bill of sale for the buyer and seller.