What to do about a letter that I received a letter from “an attorney’s” office regarding a car that I sold?

UPDATED: May 1, 2013

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What to do about a letter that I received a letter from “an attorney’s” office regarding a car that I sold?

It read, “A car in my name was involved in an accident” that caused a person injury. No other specifics. They want my insurance info, my telephone numbers. My car was not in an accident. Last year I sold a family friend a car for $300. He died last month; I have his obit.

Asked on May 1, 2013 under Accident Law, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your friend's death.

When you sold your car to your friend, title should have been transferred to him.  A Notice of Release of Liability form should have been detached from the Certificate of Title and mailed to the California DMV when you sold the car.  That form lists the buyer, seller, and details of the sale,  (mileage, price), etc.

If that form wasn't sent to the DMV, then you would still be listed as the registered owner and would be liable for an accident.

It is possible that the attorney's office might not have current information about the sale of your car to your friend or there may be some other mistake such as the attorney's office having the wrong license plate or wrong vehicle identification number since you said the car was not in an accident.

Contact the attorney's office and tell the attorney that you are not the registered owner of the car, that the car was not in an accident and there must be some mistake as to the license plate or VIN, and that your friend who purchased your car is deceased.  In addition to a phone call with the attorney, send a letter to the attorney stating these facts and keep a copy of the letter for your records.

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