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Old 16-09-2015, 14:27   #1
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Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

Hi everybody

I wonder if someone could enlighten me on this one. Say, there is a boat, and owner dies. Family wants to sell it, price is attractive. The question is - what to look/ask for, in terms of paperwork? Obviously the title must be somehow transferred to a family from a deceased owner, so, how do I know they legally own the boat now?
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Old 16-09-2015, 14:53   #2
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

Not a lawyer but I'm at an age where I've given this some thought. From your end you will need a clean title showing the living owner and any liens.

From their end, it depends. If the boat was in a living trust, they will have to apply for a title transfer. If in a will, things take longer because the estate will be in probate for a while. If no will, it can take a long time for the courts to decide who gets what.

The lady next door committed suicide over a year ago. The house has not been sold, two vehicles are still sitting in the drive and so on.

As I said, all you need to see is a clear title. Whoever is listed as owner can legally sell the boat. Liens will also have to be paid. I would suggest a real attorney be involved to avoid future problems.


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Old 16-09-2015, 14:56   #3
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

This will be general statements. US based statements.

The owner's heir(s) will own the boat now.

The executor of the will does the process of transfer with the probate court system, using the death certificate and other paperwork.

A new title will be in the name of the heir(s) soon. Then it can be sold or tranfered as they see fit.

That's how it worked when I was co-executor of my mom's will a few years ago.
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Old 16-09-2015, 15:29   #4
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

Went through the same thing a few months ago.
My buddy died at home in the old country. (Norway)
Boat was here in Fort Lauderdale and I looked after the boat for him.
Found a buyer in Florida.
The best solution was that the owner "sold" the boat to me for next to nothing, got the title in my name, then I sold the boat as mine with a clean title, then I sent the money to my friends daughter.
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Old 16-09-2015, 15:48   #5
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CSY Man View Post
Went through the same thing a few months ago.
My buddy died at home in the old country. (Norway)
Boat was here in Fort Lauderdale and I looked after the boat for him.
Found a buyer in Florida.
The best solution was that the owner "sold" the boat to me for next to nothing, got the title in my name, then I sold the boat as mine with a clean title, then I sent the money to my friends daughter.

Smart man and good of you to help him out.


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Old 16-09-2015, 16:02   #6
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

Finishing up with this right now.
Depends entirely on what is in the will as to who owns what and when/how it can be sold.
I tell ya it has been a learning experience acting as executor through all this!
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Old 17-09-2015, 09:22   #7
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CSY Man View Post
Went through the same thing a few months ago.
My buddy died at home in the old country. (Norway)
Boat was here in Fort Lauderdale and I looked after the boat for him.
Found a buyer in Florida.
The best solution was that the owner "sold" the boat to me for next to nothing, got the title in my name, then I sold the boat as mine with a clean title, then I sent the money to my friends daughter.
Nice of you to try and help out but you may have screwed yourself it's very dangerous move. If the good old american IRS find out you bought a boat for cheap and sold it for what they see as a profit you will owe substantial income tax on your profit you will have a hard time proving you didn't profit also if it comes to light that the bill of sale "selling" the boat from your buddy to you was signed after his death someone is looking at some serious charges and you can get a whole lot of trouble not a wise thing to do as much as you want to help I hope you come out okay on this.

Also for the OP, if in the USA and the boat is documented there are more hurdles to get a truly clean title. I would get an abstract of title from the USCG to make sure the boat is not documented Even if you are provided with what appears to be a clean state issued title
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Old 17-09-2015, 09:24   #8
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

I should have probably add that the boat is in EU. So, it may be quite different from US. The broker said that it's the wife who is selling it.
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Old 17-09-2015, 09:51   #9
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

Have no idea in the EU but in the US an ORIGINAL death certificate is required and a statement from the heir with substantiating will or trust declaring the boat or properties. DMV can issue a new title on registered boats, documented requires abstract and title search.
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Old 17-09-2015, 09:52   #10
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

This is a Canadian viewpoint but probably applies in a general way equally to USA.

If the deceased had a Will then he likely named an executor to deal with his estate. If he died without a will then the court needs to appoint an administrator.

The executor/administrator of the estate has the power to deal with the estate's assets either according to the provisions of the Will (if there is one) or according to the applicable law (probably where the deceased was domiciled..likely where he resided).

That means the executor/administrator has the duty to realize (ie: convert to cash) the estate's assets (unless the Will specifically states that a specific asset is to pass to a specific beneficiary in which case he has to transfer it rather than sell it)

So if I was buying a boat from a deceased's estate I would want to see the following:
1) certified probated copy of the Will (if there is a Will)
2) copy of letters probate/administration from the court confirming the appointment of the person named as executor/administrator
3) if a registered boat, then proof that the boat's registration had been put in the name of the executor/administrator and that there were no registered liens or claims etc

If I was really feeling uncomfortable then I might ask for written consents from deceased's heirs consenting to the sale

Sale would be by the probate approved named executor or court-appointed administrator

At that point I would feel reasonably comfortable that the person selling the boat was the estate's executor/administrator and had the authority to sell the boat (unless the Will specifically stated that the boat was to pass to a named beneficiary in which case I would also want to see proof that the named beneficiary had authorized the sale of the boat)

Finally, if the boat was in a foreign country then I would go to a lawyer in that country to find out what else may be needed or local requirements satisfied (such as possible probate of the Will in that country, payment of taxes/fees , restriction on sale if was temporarily imported ??? etc)

You still would want to do some diligence and inquiries to make sure boat was clear of unregistered liens or claims (for example from marinas, boat service/repair businesses etc) and possibly use a title insurance company

Doesn't mean that there may not be other problems but at least the above documentation would be where I would start looking.

Usual disclaimer: general information only, not to be relied upon, requirements may vary depending on individual circumstances,etc. etc. ..advice is worth what you paid for it etc
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Old 17-09-2015, 11:10   #11
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

First off, remember that internet legal advice is worth exactly what you pay for it -- NOTHING!

Second, you want to be very, VERY sure that the contract to purchase is specific about delivering clear title to you.

Beyond that, it is going to depend on the laws in the country where the transaction is taking place.

Best advice: consult an attorney.
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Old 17-09-2015, 11:41   #12
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

As I said this is where I would START LOOKING --doesn't mean that once you get the documents that you are 'home-free' and can close the deal...but if they can't provide at least the documents that I had mentioned then you probably will be wasting your time in pursuing the sale or seeing a lawyer. By all means, if the seller can produce the documents that I have mentioned then if it is the boat that you like then by all means you should go to a lawyer--one other thing, you should probably do some registry searches (PPSA/PPR) in the jurisdiction where the deceased lived AND where the boat is located, both against the name of the deceased and the name of the boat (and its HIN) to see if there are any security interests (eg: banks, financing, judgments etc) registered against either the deceased owner &/or the boat and maybe that the owner wasn't a bankrupt ---then if all is clear then take all your documents and searches to a lawyer to do the deal (you will probably need a lawyer to hold the sale proceeds in trust until you have been delivered clear title and possession.

As I said ---this is just the starting point

PS: and you were probably wondering why you were paying your lawyer all this money...well the above are just some of things that a lawyer should and will do as part of his services
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Old 17-09-2015, 14:53   #13
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

I experienced this. In Fl it was no problem. Owner accompanied me to the DMV where we transferred title. Just like buying a car. No if the heir has not previously retitled the boat in his name you had best get a lawyer involved or find another boat.
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Old 17-09-2015, 15:16   #14
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

For an Australian context,

Most boats here don't have a 'bill of sale', though the bigger the boat, the more likely they will have. And for some reason my 36footer has had one in the 90's.

But in any case, an official bill of sale is not common.

If it's a registered ship, then someone having authority to sign the transfer of ownership is needed. But, who signs this won't be questioned.

For local state registration, a simple receipt from boat broker, or made up one from previous person who your buying the boat off is enough. In my state I required no receipt or proof of ownership at all to register my boat locally.
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Old 17-09-2015, 20:00   #15
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Re: Owner dies, family wants to sell a boat?

Quote:
. Nice of you to try and help out but you may have screwed yourself it's very dangerous move. If the good old american IRS find out you bought a boat for cheap and sold it for what they see as a profit you will owe substantial income tax on your profit you will have a hard time proving you didn't profit also if it comes to light that the bill of sale "selling" the boat from your buddy to you was signed after his death someone is looking at some serious charges and you can get a whole lot of trouble not a wise thing to do as much as you want to help I hope you come out okay on this.
Nah, not worried about an audit.
I transferred the proceeds from the sale to the estate and can prove it.
Not a shekel of un-reported income or profit in my pocket.

Speaking of that boat, tried to sell it on this forum under classifieds, Boats for sale:
37' sloop with brand new 4 cylinder Diesel engine, brand new tranny and brand new fuel tank, plumbing, etc, etc and ready to cruise, for $20K.
Nobody jumped on so I listed it with a broker for $22,500 and it sold right away.
Strange.
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