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Old 08-15-2015, 05:27 PM   #1
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Who gets the boat?

Had an interesting discussion this morning with the cranky old codger who has a slip close to mine. He is hardly ever down there (boat is a Monk -- I would guess 36'), but he was there this morning, and we got to talking. He told me more than I really wanted to know. I think he is a lonely old codger, though, and I am a good listener (comes with the profession. :-)
.
But he raised some interesting points. His wife predeceased him, he has cancer, and has made all sorts of elaborate arrangements for cremation and burial, but no one in his family has the slightest interest in the boat. He and his wife had many good years cruising and enjoying the good life, so he wants to hold onto it until he dies, because just coming down there and sitting on it and having a gin and tonic and watching the water is enjoyable. I can understand that. But he has made no arrangements for it.
.
So I suppose that it will sit there after he is gone, and at some point someone (the marina?) will do something about it. Made me sad, and made me wonder about what I would have advised had he asked for advice (he didn't).
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Old 08-15-2015, 05:33 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by jwnall View Post
Had an interesting discussion this morning with the cranky old codger who has a slip close to mine. He is hardly ever down there (boat is a Monk -- I would guess 36'), but he was there this morning, and we got to talking. He told me more than I really wanted to know. I think he is a lonely old codger, though, and I am a good listener (comes with the profession. :-)
.
But he raised some interesting points. His wife predeceased him, he has cancer, and has made all sorts of elaborate arrangements for cremation and burial, but no one in his family has the slightest interest in the boat. He and his wife had many good years cruising and enjoying the good life, so he wants to hold onto it until he dies, because just coming down there and sitting on it and having a gin and tonic and watching the water is enjoyable. I can understand that. But he has made no arrangements for it.
.
So I suppose that it will sit there after he is gone, and at some point someone (the marina?) will do something about it. Made me sad, and made me wonder about what I would have advised had he asked for advice (he didn't).
Perhaps you could have suggested he bequest it to Boat Angels in his will.
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Old 08-15-2015, 05:34 PM   #3
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Leave it to a charity.
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Old 08-15-2015, 06:13 PM   #4
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When you say "family" I assume that doesn't mean kids? Of course normally then the estate would sell it for whatever it could get, but if I were in that spot myself, I'd have a pile of fun picking someone to bequeath it to. A 20-something with little kids who hangs around boats but can't afford his own. A couple who foster-parents who would love to get the kids on the water.

I always hoped if I won the lottery some of the greatest, most fun moments would be dropping gifts on unsuspecting strangers. Secret Santa a whole boat on somebody, how cool is that.

(I know, if talking boats, it might not be an easy thing to gift. Maintenance expenses, slip fees, insurance, blah blah. Still, has to be somebody out there.)
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Old 08-15-2015, 06:40 PM   #5
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The executor of his estate will sell it after probate.
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Old 08-15-2015, 06:45 PM   #6
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Seems to me that there are charities that specifically takes boats?

How about the Sea Scout's they used to take them or is it in such disrepair that they will drag it ashore and dismantle it?
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Old 08-15-2015, 07:03 PM   #7
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Man, I can certainly understand where he's coming from!
Just sitting on a boat watching the water pass by, whether you ever turn the key or not, can have a soothing, healing, and somewhat comforting effect on a person. It does for me at least!

And if he's recalling better times with the lost love of his life, then God Bless him. Sort of makes me sad to imagine.

If you have a chance to broach the subject with him again, please see if he has a current will. This will make life for those left behind more simpler and considerably less expensive. Our courts and others here in Florida have found a way to stick it to the public even in death.

I would suggest he stipulate in the will his wishes for the disposal of the vessel. If as you mention, there is no one who wished to take it over (hard to fathom, but???), then as others have mentioned, maybe find a good charity and donate it in memory of his late wife, or in both their memories, making it a lasting memorial.

Boat Angels is an option, but if it were me I would be looking at one of the marine research/rescue organizations such as MOTE, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Turtle Rescue in the Keys, etc., or one of the groups that works with kids such as Tampa Marine Institute or the Sea Scouts/Explorers.

The research and rescue groups may make good use of the vessel as a research or rescue platform, a tour vessel, or as in the case of the Sea Scouts/Sea Explorers, a training platform allowing the kids to work on their skills. If nothing else they can re-sell it and use the money to promote their cause.

Whatever he does, keep it out of probate!

If the boat remains at the marina, assuming no probate and all debts are discharged, eventually the marina can salvage the vessel as abandoned, and dispose of it to recover their costs.

My condolences to your slip mate, and I wish him well.

OD
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Old 08-15-2015, 07:23 PM   #8
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He might even be persuaded to give the boat to a charity before he dies with the provision that he can sit aboard whenever he wants until he's gone. That way it definitely would not go into probate.


OD's comment about making sure he has a valid will (and other docs) is a good one. When I was working (financial advisor) one of the early questions I asked when interviewing new clients was "Who do you want to decide who gets your money when you die?"


That question usually drew the deer in the headlights look and the ensuing discussion revolved around how important it is to have updated docs (will, P of A, Directive to Physicians, etc.).


Many of my clients had not updated wills in many, many years. A few even had ex-wives still listed as beneficiaries. That sure would have pissed off the new wife if it had not been discovered and changed.
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Old 08-15-2015, 07:23 PM   #9
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The executor of his estate will sell it after probate.
True.
Try to keep it out of probate.
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Old 08-15-2015, 08:40 PM   #10
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Second all motions re: charitable organizations that are boat-oriented. Off Duty named some likely candidates, and there are quite a few.

The old gentleman may not want any advice, and one has to respect that But if he took John sufficiently into his confidence to share some of this in the first place, he may not resent an unselfish suggestion, even if unsolicited. What's the worst that can happen?

The dude should absolutely keep that boat and keep struggling aboard no matter what. It'll add quality to his life that nothing else could, and I hope the same for myself when the time comes. But if it were me, it might give me some peace of mind to know that it would pass into the responsible hands of someone who knows something of its past.
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Old 08-15-2015, 09:46 PM   #11
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...The dude should absolutely keep that boat and keep struggling aboard no matter what. It'll add quality to his life that nothing else could, and I hope the same for myself when the time comes. But if it were me, it might give me some peace of mind to know that it would pass into the responsible hands of someone who knows something of its past.
Absolutely!
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Old 08-15-2015, 09:58 PM   #12
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Our son loves boats. His wife does not. As a parent I have a challenge with some aspects of that. He does as well.

Because of that our will puts our assets in a trust. The trust will pay for boat maintenance, mooring etc...

The trust cannot sell the boat until my son is 58 and my son cannot draw from the trust, not a dime unless he keeps the boat within 200 miles of his home.

That way he will get the boat, and keep it regardless of his wife's wishes.
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Old 08-15-2015, 11:10 PM   #13
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^ - Very nice, but what if he decides he wants a different boat?


As for the older gentlemen with cancer. Agree with the others that said, any comfort in his life is a plus. Keep it till the end.
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Old 08-15-2015, 11:53 PM   #14
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AS a tax attorney, I do quite a bit of trust and estate work. I would second GFC on having a valid, currently updated will. As to probate, it really is not as big a deal a most make it out to be. If you have named a competent executor for your estate, probate is normally not that big a deal. The only point of the probate process is to ensure that the terms of the will is properly carried out. The courts generally pretty rubber stamp whatever the Executor does unless and until, someone goes to court and complains, not a very common occurrence. If he dies possessed of the boat, it will be part of his probate estate. As some have noted, absent any other direction in the will, the boat would get sold and the proceeds distributed in accord with the terms of the will. Donation is a good idea and there are plenty of outfits that take boats as donations. Donating it before death, and retaining the right to use it is a bit more problematical. There are questons of who maintains it, and some legal questions of how it must be maintained that you friend probably would not want to be bothered with.

If you know of anyone doing good estate planning, and feel comfortable talking to him, I would go ahead and offer him some suggestions and a referral to someone who can help him if he does not already have an attorney/financial person who can. It is a sad, but too common situation. Almost makes you wish for a revival of the old Viking custom-die, and be out to sea in a flaming boat! That would work for me.
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Old 08-16-2015, 01:03 AM   #15
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This is why I was suggesting avoiding probate in Florida:

This just one county in Florida, but the filing fees are statewide (with local fees applied per county):

http://www.mypalmbeachclerk.com/fees/probate.aspx

(Not in the link above):

What is the average length of time to complete probate?
Unless there are complications or disputes, most nontaxable estates take between six and ten months for formal administration and four to five weeks for a summary administration. Taxable estates cannot close until the IRS signs off on the Estate Tax Return 706, which has to be filed within nine months after the date of death and often takes that long to prepare. Taxable estates are doing well to close in two years. However, in many taxable estates the work is primarily done in the first nine months, and the rest of the time is spent mainly waiting for IRS review and approval to close the estate. For the IRS publication on estate tax, review this IRS website.
What is the average cost for probate in Florida?

Florida law permits probate lawyers to charge fees based upon a percentage of the estate, but in many cases THAT RESULTS IN TOO HIGH A FEE. Many lawyers in Florida charge either a flat fee or "by the hour". Estates vary from very simple to extremely complicated, based on the type of assets owned, the number of beneficiaries, and special conditions in the will. If the decedent owned real property in ten different states, you can be sure the probate costs will be a lot higher than if he or she just owned "liquid" funds in financial institutions. It is not the amount of the estate but the type of assets and complexity of the will that should determine the legal fees in probate cases.

I agree with THD.
A referral to a good financial/end of life planner or financial attorney would be a good gift.


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Old 08-16-2015, 02:46 AM   #16
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Off-Duty-most of the expenses described in your post are ones an estate will have whether in probate or not. There are only a few ways to avoid probate entirely: (1) give it al away before you die; (2) put all your assets in a Living Trust; (3) use a more complicated (and much ore expensive) trust structure to remove assets from your estate. On the estate tax issue, fewer than 1% of all estates are even subject to the Federal Estate Tax. It varies as to state level estate taxes. But whether you are subject to the estate tax is independent of whether the estate is probated. You can have an estate not subject to probate but still subject to the estate tax. Those timing estimates and costs will be pretty much the same whether probated or not.
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Old 08-16-2015, 03:21 AM   #17
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.....Made me sad, and made me wonder about what I would have advised had he asked for advice (he didn't)....
He might not care what happens after he goes. But, even if he is cranky, and hasn`t asked for advice, would it be worth offering some, like about a charitable bequest, or pre death charitable gift? At worst he can say no or yell at you, he might be lacking ideas, and appreciate the input.
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Old 08-16-2015, 11:32 AM   #18
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There are only a few ways to avoid probate entirely:

The best advice ever!

No probate , no bills.
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Old 08-16-2015, 02:09 PM   #19
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The key is good legal documents to carry out whatever wishes one has in the event of serious illness and death. Complications most often occur when those documents don't exist. Make it clear and reinforce it or your heirs are likely to end up in dispute or at the least some level of disagreement.

Based on my experiences, probate isn't as big a deal as often made out to be. When you read high costs, it's complex estates that would incur high costs regardless. It's just a legal process but if the administrator is handling everything appropriately then it's generally straight forward.

As to the boat, he just needs to think what he'd like to do. Leave it to family to use or sell or to a charity or to another individual.

Kevin mentions a trust and he could put it in a trust now rather than wait until death. He could make it revocable if he wished.

I know a lot of people try all they can to avoid using a lawyer, but this is an area in which one can be very helpful. I'd write up what I'm trying to accomplish and then see a lawyer who can tell me how to make that happen.

Our situation is simple as long as either of us is alive. However, with no children, if both of us die it gets very complicated. Discussing it is tough for most of us, but the way we look at it, we've taken care of death and other legal concerns and now we can just go on with living.
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