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Old 18-01-2021, 11:06   #1
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Dinghy Title Disaster

I purchased a dinghy from a private party recently and am now in a tough spot to get it titled and registered.

The seller of the dingy is a widow to whom the dinghy, the boat and presumably other worldly possessions were left to. The dinghy seems to be one of the last things she needed to dispose of. It had purchased it new, and took delivery (In his name only) in FL and stored it in a garage until she was ready to sell it. It was never titled or registered; when I asked for the title she told me they did not need to because it was under 16' and does not need to be, unless you put a motor on it. I believe the correct interpretation of the law is it does not need ot be registered if it is under 16', but it needs to be titled (and sales tax paid).

I knew it might be a problem during the transaction (but did not listen to my gut), but they assured me it would not be and that she would help me if it turns out I needed her help. Spoiler alert, I need her help and she is unresponsive to emails and requests for help.

I have a host of problems getting this dinghy titled, starting with I have her name on the bill of sale and his name is on the manufacturer's certificate of origin and the receipt from the inflatable dealer. She is probably the only one who can go to the DMV to clear it up; even if I had the death certificate and will/POA, a smart person at the DMV would still want her to title it to pay her sales tax, so they can then charge me my sales tax/registration fees.

What is my recourse to solve this? Since my nice emails are bring ignored, I am wondering if I can legally compel her or hold her accountable.

Did she break the law by selling me the dinghy without a title? Although she is the widow and presumably the rightful owner, the papwework does not reflect that.

If the law was broken, would it be criminal or civil? It feels like fraud to me.

Anyone familiar with Florida law in this type of a scenario?
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Old 18-01-2021, 11:38   #2
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Re: Dinghy Title Disaster

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Originally Posted by Talk Story View Post
I purchased a dinghy from a private party recently and am now in a tough spot to get it titled and registered.

The seller of the dingy is a widow to whom the dinghy, the boat and presumably other worldly possessions were left to. The dinghy seems to be one of the last things she needed to dispose of. It had purchased it new, and took delivery (In his name only) in FL and stored it in a garage until she was ready to sell it. It was never titled or registered; when I asked for the title she told me they did not need to because it was under 16' and does not need to be, unless you put a motor on it. I believe the correct interpretation of the law is it does not need ot be registered if it is under 16', but it needs to be titled (and sales tax paid).

I knew it might be a problem during the transaction (but did not listen to my gut), but they assured me it would not be and that she would help me if it turns out I needed her help. Spoiler alert, I need her help and she is unresponsive to emails and requests for help.

I have a host of problems getting this dinghy titled, starting with I have her name on the bill of sale and his name is on the manufacturer's certificate of origin and the receipt from the inflatable dealer. She is probably the only one who can go to the DMV to clear it up; even if I had the death certificate and will/POA, a smart person at the DMV would still want her to title it to pay her sales tax, so they can then charge me my sales tax/registration fees.

What is my recourse to solve this? Since my nice emails are bring ignored, I am wondering if I can legally compel her or hold her accountable.

Did she break the law by selling me the dinghy without a title? Although she is the widow and presumably the rightful owner, the papwework does not reflect that.

If the law was broken, would it be criminal or civil? It feels like fraud to me.

Anyone familiar with Florida law in this type of a scenario?
The problem is, it doesn't actually need a title. Even without a will, she has the legal right to the inheritance of her husbands belongings. Even a probate court would more than likely eventually come to that conclusion. However, you're not contesting her right of ownership here. It is effectively a row boat until you choose to put a motor on it. A title would only be issued to a motorized vessel and would occur at the time of registration.

You have no legal recourse with her. She is not bound to any verbal agreement.

Here is what I would do. Register in a non-title state (preferable one that doesn't charge sales or use tax) such as New Hampshire. You only need the Bill of Sale to register in NH. NH does not title vessels. Now register the vessel in Florida. Your registration is the only paperwork from NH you should need to register it in Florida. Florida will issue a title for the vessel being relocated from one state to another.
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Old 18-01-2021, 11:43   #3
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Re: Dinghy Title Disaster

I don't know about FL, but in California, if you can find a sympathetic DMV employee, you can register it with a Statement of Facts document. I registered a 30yo Achilles with a frozen up outboard, they figured the boat was worth $80 and the outboard was $20 scrap.
I paid the tax and registration, patched the holes on the inflatable and attacked the outboard with PB Blaster, voila!! I have a dink.
LEGALLY!!
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Old 18-01-2021, 11:47   #4
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Re: Dinghy Title Disaster

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Originally Posted by Shrew View Post

Here is what I would do. Register in a non-title state (preferable one that doesn't charge sales or use tax) such as New Hampshire. You only need the Bill of Sale to register in NH. NH does not title vessels. Now register the vessel in Florida. Your registration is the only paperwork from NH you should need to register it in Florida. Florida will issue a title for the vessel being relocated from one state to another.
Thanks for the advice, I see I can mail in to NH to register. Do I need a NH address to do this or am I overthinking it?
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Old 11-04-2021, 21:04   #5
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Re: Dinghy Title Disaster

I live in Fl and just did this exact thing, and it’s easy. First, you have to separate the boat from the motor. Fl law https://www.flhsmv.gov/motor-vehicle...registrations/ states that “non motor powered vessels less than 16 feet are exempt from titling requirements.” You bought the rowboat, you have a bill of sale, titling and registering are not required. You can row around in that thing all day with no documentation. Now you want to put a motor on it, so you will need to title and register it, and you will have to pay the sales tax on the amount on your bill of sale, plus the registration fee. You only need the bill of sale to establish the taxable value. For a few hundred bucks you will walk out of the tax collectors office with a title, registration, and now you can hang the motor and use it legally. Easy peasy.
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Old 11-04-2021, 21:17   #6
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Re: Dinghy Title Disaster

If not obviously a production boat, a home built title is the way to go. If it’s an inflatable, but an junk zodiac to get the title.
I have gotten antique homebuilt titles which I found interesting in FL!
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Old 12-04-2021, 06:23   #7
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Re: Dinghy Title Disaster

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
The problem is, it doesn't actually need a title. Even without a will, she has the legal right to the inheritance of her husbands belongings. Even a probate court would more than likely eventually come to that conclusion. However, you're not contesting her right of ownership here. It is effectively a row boat until you choose to put a motor on it. A title would only be issued to a motorized vessel and would occur at the time of registration.

You have no legal recourse with her. She is not bound to any verbal agreement.

Here is what I would do. Register in a non-title state (preferable one that doesn't charge sales or use tax) such as New Hampshire. You only need the Bill of Sale to register in NH. NH does not title vessels. Now register the vessel in Florida. Your registration is the only paperwork from NH you should need to register it in Florida. Florida will issue a title for the vessel being relocated from one state to another.
This is the exact advice I was going to give. I have never titled a dinghy. Just registered them. And, I've never had a problem with doing it that way.

I even bought one from a guy in Florida, who signed his Florida Title over to me. I still just registered it in my home state (Mississippi) and didn't bother to re-title it.

You will find that most state's level of give a darn, is based on potential tax revenue. When it's a dinghy, and only worth a few thousand dollars, nobody cares. Registration makes them happy.
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