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Freedom isn't free
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Generally speaking if there is an outstanding loan/lien the boat owner won't have the title... at least that's been my experience (Yeah I know people do illegal things)... but banks have this tendency to get VERY unhappy if they don't get a title.

Bill of Sale should state as much, that makes it a legal contract. Believe it or not a BOS is binding, and I've used one each time I've purchased. Some states don't do titles for boats, some don't for trailers. My state does both, and I've had to deal with both boat and trailer with non-existent titles coming back home.. the BOS was the only way to prove it...

As an FYI for people buying boats out of state, if the owner does not have a title for the boat, a BOS and proof of any former registration will be enough to get a title in PA (or should be enough for any other state). No title to the trailer is harder than that. I didn't recommend this or anything, but Maine has title registration services online that allow you to title/tag your trailer in Maine that is way easier to deal with than many (including my) state.

But yeah with title get BOS. Including wording that the title is free and clear.
 
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