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Power of Attorney to Sell a Car: Everything You Need To Know

Power of Attorney to Sell a Car: Everything You Need To Know

Specific kinds of property, such as vehicles or real estate, come with titles and deeds that need to be transferred from the owner to the buyer at the time of purchase. If you wish to have somebody else transfer the property for you, it will require a power of attorney. Since you are giving the power to sell your vehicle to somebody other than yourself, you will be the principal, and the individual acting for you will be the attorney-in-fact or agent. Among the responsibilities your agent will be able to fulfill is the ability to transfer a vehicle title.

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You can use a vehicle power of attorney is you cannot physically attend to the needs of the vehicle, need an employee to file the proper paperwork, registration, or title for a company vehicle, or if you need to appoint an agent to transfer the vehicle’s title.


What is a Power of Attorney?


 A power of attorney, otherwise known as a POA, is a type of legal document that gives one person (the agent) the power to act on another individual’s (the principal) behalf. The agent may have a wide range of legal authority or limited authority to make legal choices about the principal’s property, including car, finances, and medical care. This type of legal agreement is often used when the principal has a disability or illness, or when they cannot be present to sign the legal documents needed for a financial transaction.


A power of attorney can come to an end for numerous reasons. These can include if the principal passes away, if the principal revokes it, if the principal divorces their spouse who is the agent, if a court invalidates the document, or if the agent cannot carry out the agreed upon responsibilities.


Traditional power of attorney documents lapse when its creator becomes incapacitated. However, there are “durable POAs” that remain in effect to allow the agent to govern the creator’s affairs. Additionally, a “springing POA” becomes effective only if and when the principal becomes incapacitated. 


How a Power of Attorney Works


The creator of the power of attorney document can purchase or download a power of attorney template easily online. If you do this, ensure that it is for your state, because requirements differ depending upon location. 


A more suitable way to begin the process of creating a power of attorney is by hiring an attorney who specializes in family law in your state. Most states require that the principal’s (or the person who created the power of attorney) signature is notarized. Other states also require witnesses’ signatures to be notarized as well.


While the individual details can differ, the following rules apply to all 50 states:


  • Put it in writing: While some areas of the United States allow oral power of attorney grants, verbal instruction isn’t a reliable substitute for getting each of the powers of attorney permitted to an agent written down on paper. This helps to troubleshoot confusion or arguments down the road.


  • Use the correct format: There are a lot of power of attorney variations available. Some are short-loved, while others are meant to last until the principal passes away. It is important to decide what specific powers you wish to grant and prepare a power of attorney specific to those desires. The power of attorney document needs to also cater to the requirements of your state. To locate a form that is accepted by a court of law in the state you live in, perform a simple web search, and utilize an attorney to assist you.


  • Identify the parties: As stated before, the term for the individual granting the power of attorney is the “principal.” The person who receives the power of attorney is referred to as the “agent” or the “attorney-in-fact.” It’s critical to check whether your state requires that you use the specific terminology.


  • Delegate the powers: A power of attorney can be extremely broad or very limited. However, each of the powers granted must be crystal clear, even if the principal grants the agent “general power of attorney.” This means that the power of attorney creator cannot grant whole authority, such as “I entrust all of the things having to do with my entire life.”


  • Identify durability: In most of the states, a power of attorney terminated when the principal becomes incapacitated. In the event that this happens, the only way the agent can keep their powers is if the power of attorney was written with an indication that it is “durable.” This is an indication that the power of attorney will last for the principal’s lifetime, unless revoked by them.


  • Notarize the power of attorney: Most states require that the power of attorney is notarized. This means that a government employee will witness the signing of the power of attorney documents. Even if you live in a state that does not require this, it makes it much simpler for the agent if a notary’s signature and seal are on the document. The notary fee will vary from state to state but generally costs between $2 to $20 per signature.


  • Record it: It is not mandatory for all powers of attorney to be formally by the county to be deemed legal. However, recording is a best practice for many estate planners and people who want to make a record that the power of attorney document exists.


  • Get it filed: Some states many require specific types of power of attorney documents to be filed with a court or a government office before they are validated. 


How to Write a Vehicle Power of Attorney


Once you have gotten the appropriate form for your state, you can either use a software program to fill it out digitally or you can print it out and fill it out by hand.


The very first piece of information that you will need to fill out will be the date. This is located just below the document’s title.


Next, clearly fill out the full name of the agent that you have selected to have power over the vehicle. 


You will then indicate the type of vehicle your agent is being granted authority over. The selections will be motor vehicle, mobile home, or vessel. A table will be provided below where you will enter the year, make, model, title number, and the vehicle identification number.


Each owner of the vehicle will then have to confirm their intent to deliver authority to the agent that is listed above. This will be done by filling out several different items that only the vehicle owner can satisfy, including their signature, address, date of birth, and driver’s license number. If the vehicle has a co-owner, they will fill out their information.


Once the document is completely filled out and signed, you can then hand deliver it or mail it to your local motor vehicle department. 


How to Give Authority to Transfer a Vehicle


Now that you understand how to create a power of attorney, let’s explore how to allow your agent to transfer a vehicle that is in your name. 

A specific type of power of attorney is known as a “motor vehicle power of attorney.” It is a legal avenue through which an individual who owns a can can delegate the responsibilities of titling, registering, purchasing, or selling the vehicle on their behalf. The agent can sign documents for the principal if the original copy is retained by the actual owner of the vehicle in question.


In order to give a vehicle power of attorney, you need to:


  • Prepare relevant vehicle information: Firstly, you will need to gather all of the relevant vehicle information. This is necessary to prove that the vehicle does belong to the owner. This information will include the title, registration, proof of insurance, license plate, and any other important documents, such as the auto financing information.


  • Select an agent: It is your responsibility as the owner of the car to select an agent. It is crucial to pick an individual or company that is trustworthy and is also capable of serving as your agent. They will act with the same legal authority that you would have, so any mistakes they make could be very hard to correct. Furthermore, there is the dangerous potential of self-dealing, where the agent acts in their own best interest instead of the best interest of the principal. 


  • Prepare the document: Include language in your power of attorney that allows your agent or attorney-in-fact the power to transfer your property, including your car. Be as specific as possible about what the agent can transfer. It may help to include specific details about your vehicle, such as its make, model, and year. You can use a general template to give your agent broad powers, but this also should include the power to transfer your property, including a vehicle with a title.


  • Refer to your state’s DMV website: Be sure to verify if your state’s DMV has a specific form for selling a car. Some states have their own form that you need to use. If you live in a state that has one, carefully follow the directions provided in order to complete it. When transferring the title, have your agent go to the local motor vehicle department with the power of attorney document, the vehicle’s title, and with any other power of attorney documents the state provides them with.


  • Provide your agent with a copy of the document and have them sign it: If you plan on transferring the vehicle right away, give the car’s title to your agent. If you wish to transfer the car on a later date, let your agent know where the title is located. Ensure that the agent signs the title in their capacity as your agent. This should look like: a.) John Doe [principal’s name], by Jane Doe [agent’s name] under Power of Attorney or b.) Jane Doe, attorney-in-fact for John Doe. Ensure that the agent brings the power of attorney document with them because they sometimes need to attach a copy to the vehicle’s title.


Can a Power of Attorney Buy a Car?


The answer to this question is yes, they can. The powers that are under this type of arrangement are mostly discretionary. If the car owner wants, it is possible to use the power of attorney document to purchase or even resell a vehicle. The only condition is that the vehicle owner has to be duly informed in advance of the transaction.


Does a Vehicle Power of Attorney Form Have to Be Notarized?


As stated earlier, many states require that the power of attorney document is notarized to make it official. Check with your state’s individual rules and regulations to find out if you need to get the form notarized.


Does a Vehicle Power of Attorney Help to Protect the Buyer and the Seller?


A vehicle power of attorney helps to protect a new buyer of a vehicle. In normal circumstances, the vehicle’s title would be transferred over to the new buyer and the deal would be done.

If you were to sell a vehicle on somebody else’s behalf without the proper vehicle power of attorney document, the car’s real owner could claim that you did not have the right to sell it. This can become a huge legal problem.


The seller can claim that they did not want to sell the vehicle. However, the buyer can claim the car as theirs since they have the title. 




There are many reasons why you would want to appoint an agent to take responsibility for your vehicle, including you cannot take care of it any longer. However, it is critical to choose a person who you deeply trust and who is capable of serving as your agent.


It is equally as important to fill out the proper documents in the correct manner, have the power of attorney forms notarized, and include all information about your vehicle with the form.