Gibraltar News – December 2013

Inherited a Yacht? Now What?

It’s a nightmare scenario. Your beloved life partner has succumbed to an illness. After what is probably the most painful experience of your life you emerge to discover that now you own that yacht you never really loved. Selling a yacht in these circumstances is stressful in the extreme. The fact that the yacht may be docked be in a foreign port just adds to the bewilderment you are facing. Over the past few years Boatshed Gibraltar has acquired considerable experience handling these distressing situations. Let me share some of the issues that need to be considered. Correct handling of these issues will help you sell the yacht and quickly stop the cash outflow at an awkward time. 

It is much easier to handle these situations if provision has been made in a properly drafted will that defines who is the “beneficiary” of the yacht. Unpleasant and unwelcome as thoughts of death may be, the inevitable is exactly that, inevitable. Good planning will help your heirs quickly dispose of the yacht with minimum fuss. If the testator (the person making the will) has his home “domicile” in a country that issues Probate then his executors will be required to apply for a Grant of Probate. The Grant of Probate gives the executor the authority to sign the paperwork required to sell the yacht. If the testator has his home in a civil law country the Yacht Registry will probably want to see an Inheritance Certificate issued by a Notary Public which identifies the heirs. There are many other issues to consider such as tax, de-registration and payment of any outstanding berthing charges. 

When a yacht owner dies intestate (without having a will) the situation is a little more complex. Under English law the intestacy rules will decide not only who the heirs are but also who can apply to administer the estate. Instead of an executor the grant will be issued to a person or persons with an interest who will be referred to as an administrator. It is the administrator who can sign the transfer form when the Grant of Letters of Administration has been issued. Executors and administrators are sometimes collectively referred to legal personal representatives. Other jurisdictions may not have similar court orders in which case the Yacht Registry will probably want to see either a Certificate of Inheritance. 

If the yacht is in a foreign port it may make sense to retrieve it to a jurisdiction where the rules and language are familiar to you. However no marina will allow a yacht to sail out if it owes berthing fees. 

We are often surprised at how little knowledge of the yacht a partner can have. To list a yacht for sale effectively you need to have more than a cursory knowledge of the yacht. A good broker will help you recover the technical specifications of the yacht and create a listing that is attractive to potential buyers. 

Complex situations can always be broken down into small and understandable steps. We have recently handled the sale of yacht inherited by a Russian family that was berthed in Spain and which has been acquired by a Belgian who needed all the correct ownership documents to register the yacht in Gibraltar. I am pleased to say that this was achieved in record time and in complete security. The sooner we get involved the quicker we can get to work on ensuring that the requisite documentation is in place to sell the boat.  In these cases time is money and the sooner we can set to work the sooner we can sell the yacht. 

If you need any help in one of these appalling situations don’t hesitate to contact an experienced and straightforward broker like Boatshed Gibraltar. 


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