Who’s Going to Get Your Boat?

In Minnesota, we love our boats.

With 15,000 lakes to choose from it’s no wonder that in 2014 Minnesota ranked # 2 in boat registrations in the country (and no, Alaska isn’t 1st—it’s actually Florida).  Minnesota has 809,000 boats registered!  The boats come in all forms—ski boats, power boats, cabin cruisers, yachts, sailboats, pontoons and, of course, our beloved fishing boats, to name a few.  Some of our best memories occur on the lakes of Minnesota as we entertain family and friends alike.  Have you ever thought about who is going to get that memory-making boat of yours after you pass on?

The Minnesota Legislature, in its 2016 session, passed a new law allowing “watercraft” to be passed on to whoever you desire by simply filling out a certificate of registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles (Minn. Stat. 86B.841).  This is referred to as “TOD” or Transfer on Death beneficiary designation.  As the term refers to “watercraft” it would also apply to jet skis.

This legislation is developing a trend started in 2009 when the legislature passed a law allowing Minnesotans to pass on real estate, without having to go through probate, by using a Transfer on Death Deed (“TODD”).  So now both real estate and “watercraft” can skip probate if you fill out the right forms ahead of time. With real estate it is best to consult with a lawyer as there are particular requirements and steps required to get this done effectively (see other article on my website titled “Transferring Real Estate Without Going Through Probate”).  It should be noted that the original House version of this new “watercraft” law also had the transfer provision applying to motor vehicles but that language was stripped from the law before passage. Be looking for that to come up next year as this is the second legislative session in a row where the idea has been introduced.

Could I get a show of hands of who enjoys going through probate?  Thought so.

Take action on that boat of yours. Get with the DMV and get that beneficiary designation changed so that the memory of you will live on every time your designated beneficiary uses your boat.  And enjoy your time on the water this Summer ahead!