Donated car to charity, title still in my name, now what???

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onepocket
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Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:30 pm

Donated car to charity, title still in my name, now what???

Post by onepocket »

Hi guys. I am wondering if anyone has any legal opinion about how I should proceed. I donated my car to our local public radio station via this company:

The Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program is administered by ARS, Advanced Remarketing Services, 308 Market Street, Warren, Rhode Island 02885.

I followed all of their instructions including keeping the plate on the car and the title in the glove box (singed by me and notorized for transfer). They hauled it away and they sold the vehicle at auction on September 24, 2016. However, the title to the car remains in my name after I have made multiple attempts to contact them to initiate the transfer. Finally, a month and a half ago, I went to our county clerk's office (in Kentucky) and they recommended that I complete an affidavit of incomplete transfer, which I did and they confirmed they had on file today. I called the company again today to once again try to get them to transfer the title, but they said that the buyer had it and that the car is probably being parted out (had a blown head gasket and would not operate) and that this commonly happens. I protested, at which point they told me that they would write me an email saying that they had assumed responsibility of the car, should something happen.

Do you guys think that I still have a legal liability to this car should someone theoretically get it running again, fail to transfer the title, and then cause an accident? I don't know how to proceed here, or if I should just accept their email and the affidavit as putting the matter to rest. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
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dm200
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Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Donated car to charity, title still in my name, now what???

Post by dm200 »

onepocket wrote:Hi guys. I am wondering if anyone has any legal opinion about how I should proceed. I donated my car to our local public radio station via this company:
The Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program is administered by ARS, Advanced Remarketing Services, 308 Market Street, Warren, Rhode Island 02885.
I followed all of their instructions including keeping the plate on the car and the title in the glove box (singed by me and notorized for transfer). They hauled it away and they sold the vehicle at auction on September 24, 2016. However, the title to the car remains in my name after I have made multiple attempts to contact them to initiate the transfer. Finally, a month and a half ago, I went to our county clerk's office (in Kentucky) and they recommended that I complete an affidavit of incomplete transfer, which I did and they confirmed they had on file today. I called the company again today to once again try to get them to transfer the title, but they said that the buyer had it and that the car is probably being parted out (had a blown head gasket and would not operate) and that this commonly happens. I protested, at which point they told me that they would write me an email saying that they had assumed responsibility of the car, should something happen.
Do you guys think that I still have a legal liability to this car should someone theoretically get it running again, fail to transfer the title, and then cause an accident? I don't know how to proceed here, or if I should just accept their email and the affidavit as putting the matter to rest. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
While I cannot give all the details, I know that it is very common for recipients of car donations (or even when a sale is done) that the purchaser does not record the change in ownership if the vehicle will not be immediately registered and driven. The recipient is a "middle man" between you and the ultimate destination/owner and they do not want to pay the fees to record the transfer. They will just put the ultimate recipient's information as though it was transferred from you.
jebmke
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Re: Donated car to charity, title still in my name, now what???

Post by jebmke »

My wife spent a very long day in a police station in a bad part of Boston explaining to the police that the car they impounded in a drug bust wasn't hers. I'll never donate a car again.
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dm200
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Location: Washington DC area

Re: Donated car to charity, title still in my name, now what???

Post by dm200 »

jebmke wrote:My wife spent a very long day in a police station in a bad part of Boston explaining to the police that the car they impounded in a drug bust wasn't hers. I'll never donate a car again.
Yes, I would worry about that as well.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: Donated car to charity, title still in my name, now what???

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Depending on the state, there may be no way to assure title transfer and if the ultimate buyer is just parting out the car, then cutting it up for scrap metal, it just isn't documented after your ownership. If the car goes to a junkyard, that's a different story and they will remove the VIN panel and send it to the state police in Massachusetts. Other states, I have no idea.
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pangea33
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Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:57 am

Re: Donated car to charity, title still in my name, now what???

Post by pangea33 »

I had the same problem after donating a car in Florida. I was awoken at 3am by a police officer, asking me questions about a homeless man they found sleeping in a car I had given away 7 months earlier. I was still the owner of record. In the future I'll probably consider something different.
DiamondplateDave
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Re: Donated car to charity, title still in my name, now what???

Post by DiamondplateDave »

I'm curious if you got a receipt from the company, and what info was on it. I would think that would prove you transferred the car, although if it came to being dragged to the police station that might not be much consolation.

I am surprised that you left the plate on it. Here in NYS, you have to turn in your plates or face penalties. They also instruct you to remove the inspection and registration stickers, "to avoid tickets intended for others".

When I was much younger, I sold a rather decrepit motorcycle to an acquaintance. He asked me to leave the plate on it. I (wisely) refused). He then got pulled over on the highway riding with no plate, no insurance, no registration, and I'm guessing no license. I found this out later, the police never came and talked to me. I'm pretty sure if he had my plate I would have had some 'splainin' to do. My friend went through almost the same with a van he sold to a stranger, and kept the plate and got an interview with the cops anyway. He did have proof he sold the van. I'm thinking with all the vehicles I've sold, I haven't kept any proof of sale. Maybe that's a mistake.
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