“What happens to a property when someone dies?” is a very popular question and it’s important that we all understand the answer when it comes to estate administration. When someone passes away, the responsibility of the property automatically falls to the Executor (when there’s a Will) or the Administrator (when there’s no Will). This means they are accountable for the entire estate administration period. If there is a Will they must follow the instructions in the Will or, if there is no Will, they must distribute the estate according to the rules of intestacy.
If anything was to happen to the property after the owner had died, they would be responsible for dealing with any issues. Most household insurance policies do not cover unoccupied properties upon the policyholder’s death, or they have very strict conditions where the Executor or Administrator will not be covered if they breach any of the terms. The Executor or Administrator also needs to take care of the contents and belongings in the deceased’s property and deal with any utilities such as water, electric and gas. They must also arrange a valuation and, once a Grant of Probate has been obtained, transfer the property to the beneficiary/beneficiaries or sell it if it forms part of the residue of the estate.
It is important to ascertain how the property was owned. It could be that the property was owned solely by the deceased or they co-owned it with someone else, so the deceased only had a share in the property. Procedures are different depending on who owned the property and how they owned it. If the deceased was the sole owner, the Executor or Administrator can, once they have received a Grant of Probate, transfer (assent) the property to the beneficiary/beneficiaries. However, the Executor or Administrator must check to see if there are any trusts involved.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to dealing with the property when someone dies. That’s why it’s important to know what to do when the time comes and to ensure you have planned ahead to make things easier for the person appointed to administer your estate, as well as reducing the stress for your loved ones at an already difficult time.
If you would like to meet with one of our Consultants to discuss any of the issues raised in this article or any other Estate Planning topic please telephone 01732 868190 or click here.