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If I Purchase a Car, Can I Put Two Names on the Title?

by Mark Kennan

A car title serves as a record of a vehicle's legal owner. If your name isn't on the title, you don't have the legal rights to register or sell the car. States allow you to put multiple names on the title if there's more than one owner. If you're buying a car with someone else, it's important that the title includes the names of all the owners and the way they're listed can make a difference depending on where you live.

Types of Multiple Owners

If there's more than one name on the title, the order in which you list the names can make a big difference later on. For example, if you use the word "or" between the names on a California title you're creating a joint tenancy between owners. This means either can act for the car and, if one owner dies, the other becomes the sole owner. However, if you use the word "and" between the names in Virginia, there's no right of survivorship and each owner can leave their share of the car to whoever they want if they die. If you're unsure, talk to an attorney in your state or the motor vehicle department to make sure the names on the title accurately represent the proper status.

About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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