Did you inherit a boat, and now are wondering what to do with it? One great option, if you’re not going to use it, is to donate it. When you donate a boat to charity, you can help people and can even write off the amount on your taxes. However, there are steps you need to follow in order to give away your speedboat, sailboat, schooner, yacht, canoe, paddleboat, houseboat or whatever type of boat you have. The following are the necessary steps you need to take.
Steps to Follow When Donating an Inherited Boat
Boat donation is a great thing to do, but it can be a complex process. Before you donate your boat, you must obtain the proper documents and information.
- Establish the chain of ownership from your relative to yourself. Find what name the title is in and get the title document. When ownership of a boat is transferred, through the death of a loved one, the Department of Natural Resources may request a legal document reflecting the transfer. You will need a copy of the deceased’s death certificate and a letter from the executor of the Will.
- Secure a Will from the state. In order to get a copy of a Last Will and Testament, you need to call, fax or send a letter to the appropriate probate court, and they will tell you the specific procedures for obtaining a copy of the Will. To find the right probate court, locate the county where the deceased person lived at the time of his or her death or the county where the person owned real estate.
- Check with the Boating Division to get a duplicate title. If you don’t have the boat’s title, you must check with the division that handles boating in order to fill out the required form(s) to obtain a duplicate copy. However, most of the time the title should be with the deceased’s other important documents. Generally for a duplicate, you complete your state’s application, pay a replacement fee and deliver the application to your local DMV or Department of Boating. Sometimes you can apply for a duplicate over the phone or by mail. Other times, they will need to see the original certified copy of the will or death certificate.
- Find repair records for the boat. Hopefully these will be located on the boat or were given to you when you received the boat. These will give you a good idea of the boat’s condition.
- Find the boat’s Hull ID Number, its year, make, model and length. The Hull Identification Number (HIN) is a 12-character series of letters and numbers inscribed on every boat hull; HINs were required for every boat made or imported after Nov. 1, 1972. Boats manufactured or imported after Aug. 1, 1984 also have a duplicate HIN affixed somewhere on an unexposed location inside the boat or beneath a fitting or item of hardware. You should be able to plug the Hull ID Number into HIN websites to get information about the boat’s history.
- Note: finding the HIN, year, make and model of the boat may require the assistance of a professional boat mechanic or salesperson.
- Note: If you have an old title or registration the HIN, the year, make, model and length can be found on that.
- Secure a copy of past insurance papers. Most states do not mandate boat insurance. However, some states do require liability coverage, and most marinas will require you to have boat insurance to keep a boat at their facility.
Every state has different rules that you’ll need to consider, and there are some boats you might not be able to donate. For instance, boats left on your property cannot normally be donated; they are considered abandoned. This means that the state will have to help you establish ownership. You’ll need to ask for abandonment paperwork. Then, you’ll need to secure addresses of the last known owners and demand removal of the boat. In some cases, you’ll need to secure a bond prior to having the boat removed. If all else fails, find out if you can dismantle the boat and take the pieces to a local landfill in a large haul-away waste remover.
Donating a Boat Is a Great Idea
Donating a boat is a good thing to do, but it does require some work. Keep in mind that all the paperwork and hassle will be worth it in the end because you’ll feel happy knowing that you’ve helped a good cause.
About the Author: Dave Carter is a blogger who enjoys writing about his experiences. Last year, he donated a boat that he inherited from a deceased uncle. His donation helped needy families in his community.