Is a sale of a boat legal if you are given a bill of sale but not the title?

UPDATED: Jun 20, 2011

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Is a sale of a boat legal if you are given a bill of sale but not the title?

I recently purchased a consigned boat from a dealer in IL. After 60 days I still have not received a title from them. Was this a legal sale? I have bill of sale from dealer. Apparently, the previous owner still has the title. Dealer and previous owner rarely respond to my request for the title. Lien is paid. I live in WI, previous owner lives in IL, and dealer was in IN. Is there anything legal that I can do to obtain the title?

Asked on June 20, 2011 under Business Law, Wisconsin


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Technically under the facts given, you are not the legal owner of the boat since you do not have legal title to it in your name. Title to it is in the name of the prior owner even though you paid for it and have a bill of sale from the presumed authorized dealer. 

I would write the dealer who sold you the boat that he/she has 30 days to deliver registered title to the boat to you or you will be returning it for a full refund. You bought the boat expecting to get title to it and paid money that was agreed upon and accepted. 

If you do not get title in your name within a reasonable amount of time, you can deem the contract for ourchase "voidable." Meaning, you could at your election cancel the purchase due to no registered title in your name. The sale was legal to answer your question, but not complete, you expected to get registered title in your name. This has not happened.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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