What to do if I sold my boat yesterday to someone who just landed in jail today on conviction of a couple of 3rd degree felonies?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What to do if I sold my boat yesterday to someone who just landed in jail today on conviction of a couple of 3rd degree felonies?

That could keep her behind bars for a while. I cannot call her/email her or even meet her, I can only write. It is a big boat, and there are monthly costs (insurance, marina, electricity, etc.). Who is responsible for the boat and related cost (monthly slip payments, insurance, etc.)? What about liability? What should I do? I am afraid that if I do nothing, the marina will put a lien on the boat and eventually charge me (as the title is still in my name). And I don’t exactly want to pick up the tab, as this is the reason why I sold the boat in the first place. So what are my options?

Asked on July 28, 2015 under Business Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

As a practical matter, you won't be able to change the title to the boat, even if you were paid for it, while the buyers is in jail; you need her to participate in taking title, and until title is changed over, you are liable for the boat.

If you were not paid yet, then treat the agreeement to sell the boat as terminated by her failure to pay and or her failure to take title--basically, since title was never transferred and you were never paid, nothing happened and this was an example of "no harm, no foul."

If you were paid, write to her and let her know that if she cannot find a way to take title in a reasonable, but short, period of time (e.g. by month's end), you will treat the sale as voided and will return her money to her (ask her how/where/etc. to send it). Probably send her several letters like this, to make sure one gets through. 

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