Teens not ready to hold car title

November 20, 2011 

Dear Dave,

Our 15-year-old has saved his money, and he'll buy a car next year. When he buys it, should the title be put in our names or his?

- Laura

Dear Laura,

When my kids hit that age, I put the titles in my name. The insurance will be much less expensive if you do this. Plus, you don't want a 16-year-old under the illusion that they're in control of their lives.

As their parents, you should love them more than that because they're just not ready to be in full control. You want them to be in control of some parts of their lives, so that when they leave they have a clue about life and don't boomerang on you.

But at that age, you should be guiding them, and you don't need an ownership document to a car confusing them about who's in charge. I turned the ownership over to my kids when they turned 18. In each case, I knew I could trust them, and they were ready for that level of control.

So, once they're ready - and you know they're ready - if it's going to be their car, all the accompanying responsibility should be theirs, too.

- Dave

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