Taking the Boat

 In Learning Center


If the decedent died owning a boat, the question becomes who’s taking the boat? It’s pretty much the same answer that I give to any legal question. It depends.

taking the boat

Here’s the story. If there is a surviving spouse, that spouse may take (1) watercraft (it could be a boat,  a kayak, or a jets ski); (1) outboard motor; and (1) watercraft trailer that was titled solely in the name of the deceased spouse to the name of the surviving spouse outside of probate. This option is only available to a surviving spouse. If the decedent was not legally married at the time of their death, this is not an option. Also, if in their will, the decedent left the boat  specifically to someone other than the surviving spouse,  then the specific someone designated in the will inherits the boat as part of the probate administration.

If the boat was jointly titled, then the boat passes to the surviving joint owner (outside probate). If the boat title had a transfer on death (TOD) designation, then the TOD beneficiary on the title gets the boat (outside probate). Remember, the TOD designations trump what is written in a Last Will and Testament.

To recap, if the boat had just one owner on the title, and there’s no spouse, the boat is going through probate. So if you really don’t want to take the boat through probate, put a beneficiary designation on the title. This is a cheap option and it will avoid a lot of hassle later.

As you can see, there are quite a few paths to determine who’s taking the boat.

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