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Old 20-10-2010, 10:33   #1
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Wills and Trusts in Foreign Countries ?

I recently contacted an attorney to help with drawing up a will, prior to going cruising. In conversation, he said, that "for purposes of avoiding problems probating a boat in a foreign country, I don't know if world travelers routinely put their boats in trusts and then arrange for stateside trustees". He suggested that I find out what others cruising out of the country are doing.

I admit that I hadn't thought about this, and don't want to make a simple will any more complicated than it needs to be. But I thought I'd ask around to see if any one else is dealing with this in any way? Is it a non issue, or is it something worth considering?

I'm particularly concerned about hassles when clearing in and out of countries, especially non English speaking ones, when they see that the boat is owned by a trust, even if the trust is just my wife and I. Try to explain that to the officials.....Doesn't seem worth the headaches to me. OTOH, if my wife and I both happened to "buy the farm" together, I could imagine it would be a major hassle for the estate to get the boat released and back to the US. (o' course, that won't be MY hassle, whereas the customs hassle will be!!! )

My instinct on this, as in all such matters, is to K.I.S.S. Are others doing anything unique in their wills?


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Old 20-10-2010, 11:37   #2
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Hi Adam,

Its not a stupid question at all... and not just in case of death.

My Fiance recently went back home and now its me, alone. But when we were crusing together her name was on the Regsitration papers as Master as well as me. That gave her the right to command the vessel anytime. Purpose is if I got sick, or worse, died or waylaid by the police etc then she could get the boat back to civilization.

Notes on a Circumnavigation.

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Old 20-10-2010, 13:28   #3
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I would suggest that you keep to your original KISS idea and stay with the will...especially as you are married. Trusts have very important benefits and uses but in your "married state" the probate reason is insufficient to set up what can quite easily be an expensive process.


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Old 21-10-2010, 07:21   #4
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I assume that your attorney is recommending a revocable living trust. My wife and I have one, and all of our major assets are owned by the trust--house, cars, investment accounts, boat (last one was, next one will be when we finally get around to buying it). A revocable living trust is really a very simple thing, and very well worth it in terms of avoiding probate issues in the United States.

Up until now the only other country I have sailed to was the Bahamas, and the last time I did that was more than 10 years ago (pre 9/11 days, in other words). Back then when I checked in, as I recall, they really didn't even bother to look at my papers. Show them a driver's license, sign a form, pay a modest fee and you were done. Today, I don't know.

Considering how common they are, I have to believe that there are many others out there whose boat is held in a living trust and who have been sailing outside of the U.S. recently. With luck, some of them will chime in.
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Old 21-10-2010, 17:49   #5
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As to trusts forget them for any usefulness in foreign countrys. A simple will is as much as is needed. But neither prevent problems overseas

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