Last Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 3:15 p.m., my 82-year-old step-granddad died after a long battle with cancer. He was diagnosed years ago, but declined treatment. In October, he could hide his secret no longer. From there, his health went downhill fast.
In the midst of circling the wagons to take care of his affairs before his death, Power of Attorney was assigned to one of his nieces. Among our tasks, was to find the titles to his van, car and boat so they could be sold to cover granddad’s expenses. While the van and car titles have been unearthed, the whereabouts of this boat’s title in unknown.
Wanting to make sure we do everything right, I asked the DMV for help.
“Since Granddad provided a Power of Attorney to a relative, it can be used to transfer a California title upon sale of a vehicle or vessel,” said Jan Mendoza, the agency’s spokeswoman. “If you have the title, then it is fairly simple for the person with the Power of Attorney to sell the vehicle. They simply sign the title over to the buyer as if they are the owner in the area designated on the front of the title. The Power of Attorney must sign the releasing signature a specific way. For example: John Smith, by John Jones, POA. A copy of the Power of Attorney (document) must also be submitted with the title transfer, so be sure to provide it to the buyer. A transfer fee for the new buyer is $15, plus any use tax based on the purchase price. The new owner has 30-days to transfer the vehicle without penalties.”
Also, when the vehicles are sold, the Power of Attorney must complete and submit a Notice of Release of Liability within five days of the vehicle transfer, something that can be done on the DMV’s website at www.dmv.ca.gov, Mendoza continued. A copy of the document should be kept in a safe place, she said.
“There is a catch if the vehicle is less than 10-years-old,” Mendoza added. “Federal law requires an odometer disclosure be completed and signed by the buyer and seller on the day of the sale. The law says you can not use a Power of Attorney to sign an odometer statement nor can you use a photocopy of the form. The owner must sign the original title. A witnessed signature by mark is acceptable – such as placing an ‘X’ in the signature field — on a Certificate of Title from an applicant who cannot write. The witness must print the applicant’s name and sign his/her name next to the applicant’s mark. Statement of Facts, REG 256 form, should also be completed stating the reason an actual signature cannot be obtained.”
In regard to the boat, which doesn’t have a title, “there are simply too many variables to answer this question,” Mendoza said. “Some of the common factors are whether there is a legal owner on record, the age and value of the vehicle, to whom it is being sold, and whether it’s a gift. Different combinations of answers to those questions will determine what requirements are needed.”
Mendoza encouraged readers in similar situations to call a DMV customer service center at 1-800-777-0133. There, a technician can review the particular details of the vehicle in question and offer a complete answer. Also, many answers to questions about vehicle transfers can be found on the DMV’s website.
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