Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Need A Lawyer Or Not?

Do you NEED a lawyer to buy a boat? Absolutely not. Whether you use an attorney or not should be weighed against the level of risk and complexity in the transaction. Most boat purchases that do not involve financing also do not involve an attorney. Few yacht brokers will recommend an attorney unless they anticipate a problem. On many occasions, even financed vessel transactions do not involve attorneys.

Marine transactions are best compared to real estate transactions. Property is being bought or sold. It is fundamental contract law. Each party desires (or should) a record of the sale to evidence ownership (it’s mine!) or lack thereof to deny liability (it’s NOT mine!).

When deciding whether to use an attorney, consider the level of sophistication of the party on the other side of the transaction, whether they are represented or not, and the depth of the purchase contract. If you don’t use an attorney, spell everything out with sufficient detail to determine who gets what – dishes, charts, parts, and etc. – and get the seller to state that he/she will defend any claims against the vessel for the buyer. List everything on the Contract to Purchase as well as the Bill of Sale. Complications can and do occur.

Finally, at the risk of being repetitive, if you do handle your own vessel transaction, get everything in writing. Make lists of all ground tackle, electronics, galley items and inclusions in the sale and make sure they are intended to convey with the boat. Such items can amount to tens of thousands of dollars and are often the source of dispute. You, the buyer, need to protect yourself by doing your research, know what you’re getting into, and by making a clean, clear contract


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