https://hmlandregistry.blog.gov.uk/2018/02/13/property-owner-dies/

What to do when a property owner dies

Flowers at a gravestone

When someone dies, there are lots of things to sort out. If the deceased person owned or part-owned a property, then this needs sorting as well.

Working in customer service, I'm often asked questions about what to do when a property owner dies. So I’m going to try to cover the main issues and answer common questions here.

Dealing with the deceased’s property can be relatively straightforward, but a solicitor is often involved in sorting out their affairs, including property. For that reason, people are not always certain what happens next.

Usually, the deceased’s will specifies a named person to deal with the estate (or the deceased’s next of kin if there is no will). They are responsible for the legal affairs and will often obtain ‘probate’ (where there is a will) or ‘letters of administration’ (no will), which enables them to act as the personal representative. Probate also enables the personal representative to transfer or sell the property.

Find out more about probate, including how to apply.

If the property is to be sold, probate gives the personal representative the authority to sell it in accordance with the terms of the will. If the property is registered and the person who died was the sole owner, then the personal representative will often either Assent (form AS1) the property to the person(s) who inherits it (beneficiaries) or Transfer (form TR1) the property to someone else.

If the deceased was a joint owner and the partner is still alive, you would normally just register the death with us using form DJP, along with an official copy of the death certificate. Probate is not required to deal with the property but may be needed if the deceased’s estate warrants it.

Much will depend on what the deceased owned and what the beneficiaries intend to do with the property. Whatever is decided though does not have to be rushed and is usually dealt with several weeks after the death and the reading of the will.

We recently developed a short guide that gives more information about the forms you need to use to register the death, the supporting evidence you need to provide, and any fees payable.

Read our short guide: How to deal with property when someone has died.

Important points to remember

The main things to remember are that:

  • when someone dies, there's usually no rush to sort out what happens with their property;
  • if the property is registered in joint names, and the other person wants to remain there, you just need to notify us of the death;
  • if the property is registered to a sole owner, you need to get probate before the property can be sold;
  • if the property isn’t registered, a transfer of ownership will trigger the need to register it for the first time; and
  • if you're unsure about any of this, get legal advice, as sorting out the affairs of the deceased can be quite tricky.

38 comments

  1. Comment by SC posted on

    When filling in form AP1 to assent a property following the death of the owner, is the 'applicant' (named in panel 6) the executor of the assent or the transferee?

    Reply
    • Replies to SC>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      SC - it would be the transferee, namely the beneficiary the title is being assented to

      Reply
  2. Comment by SC posted on

    Thank you for your help!

    Reply
  3. Comment by Pip posted on

    I'm buying an unregistered property. It is being sold by the person who has had grant of probate. (Daughter of widow who died ). Im told that the probate paperwork is done. The property was owned from 1960s ( before compulsory registration). The owners solicitor has suggested my cash purchase sale would go quicker if I accept to register after completion. However, I fear a fraud and have insisted it is done before. My research has led me to believe that a death after 1990 triggers compulsory need to register the property by the beneficiary before any future sale. Is this the case. Is there any way the solicitors could rush it through and make me register after? Or is that legally impossible. My solicitors are being vague/treading carefully. What is the law. Is it a case that registration after a trigger SHALL be done before future sale, or COULD be done before furure sale? Please eliminate the grey here. Thank you. Excellent blog.

    Reply
    • Replies to Pip>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Pip - you would have to rely on your solicitor for legal advice.
      Death alone does not trigger the need to compulsorily register the ownership. 1990 was relevant only in so far as all of England and Wales became subject to compulsory registraiton that year. Triggers re transfers to beneficairies/trustees after a death came into play around 2003. So it's not the death but the onward transfer that then triggers.
      Nowadays it is not uncommon for a buyer to insist on the property being registered first to reduce the risks you refer to. The solicitor then submits details of the confirmed buyer, you, and asks us to expedite the registration. If we can we will and this can reduce the average timescale from the current 60 working days to a few weeks. I'd suggest having a further chat with your solicitor on that basis.

      Reply
  4. Comment by Andy Baines posted on

    Hi
    My Father recently passed away and I'm the executor of his estate and sole beneficiary. I have the probate documents and I'm in the process of selling his house which is freehold, I've been informed by my solicitor that it's not been registered (which I find strange as it appears on LR searches?). The potential buyer of the property is insisting I register the property before he will complete. My solicitor informs me that this will be a lengthy process protracting the sale and actually there is no legal requirement for me to do this and it is not an inhibitor to selling the property. Can anyone help?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Replies to Andy Baines>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Andy - all a matter of negotiaiton between buyer and seller as to whether they buy and then register or you register and then they buy. That often depends on the legal advice they receive and how their mortgage lender (if any) views the risk.
      If it appears on LR searches then does it have a title number (then it is registered) or are they Land Charge searches (unregistered) perhaps?
      If it is unregistered and you apply to register it for the first time whilst also having a confirmed buyer then your solicitor can ask us to expedite the process. If it is not expedited then then the average timescale currently is 60 working days

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Andy Baines posted on

        Hi Adam
        Thanks for this - yes it does have a Title Number however I've been informed that the Land Registry need to be sent the deeds, boundary maps etc so these can be electronically captured. Could this be correct given the property has a title number?
        Andy

        Reply
        • Replies to Andy Baines>

          Comment by AdamH posted on

          Andy - very unlikely as the register and title plan will be held electronically by us. If by deeds you mean for example a 'Land Certificate' then that would be destroyed as it has no legal value and we no longer issue them. We recommend owners hang on to them for personal/historical reasons if they wish to

          Reply
  5. Comment by Jane posted on

    Hi
    Im after some advice Re probate
    my grandad passed away 30 dec 2017.. my nan is still alive.
    I was the POA and executor of the will for them both.
    They had signed a notice of severance with regards to their house when they both did their wills.
    Basically my grandads half of the house is to be left to his great grandkids, to which myself and my dad are trustees for..
    My nan whom we now dont speak to for various reasons before he passed away..has had all the house cleared.. we have attempted to get in contact with her via family members to discuss probate as they said its all in hand... but as trustees myself and my dad havent been contacted amd have no idea whats happening with the house or probate if anything actually is...
    My question is... what do we do now?
    She's wanted to sell the house for many years so its inevitable this is part of her plans? But how can she if the trustees own half of it?

    Reply
    • Replies to Jane>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Jane - you will need legal advice here to understand what both your options are and what your Nan may be able to do. If they were registered joint owners then the survivor, your Nan, is the sole surviving legal owner. The severance you refer to may mean she cannot sell for example on her own but she could appoint someone to act with her to do so. If I have understood correctly you are then interested in your late Grandad's share in the beneficial ownership, namely half the value of the property

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by Jane posted on

        Thanks for your reply.
        Yes they had their wills done so were tennants in common and each owned an equal half share of the house. So as she is still alive she owns half and the trustees in theory own half until the great grand children are 25.. but we as trustees are not being kept in the loop? Re the house? So i was asking if she is able to sell house without obtaining probate. Thank you

        Reply
        • Replies to Jane>

          Comment by AdamH posted on

          Jane - she would not need probate to sell the house as the legal ownership has passed to her. The severance relates to the beneficial ownership. If the property is registered in their joint names and there is a form A restriction on the title (see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-a-restriction-application-to-enter-sev) then that will restrict her selling on her own. In essence she could appoint someone to act with her and together they then sell. Your interest in the deceased's beneficial share would then be in any sale monies.
          I would strongly recommend that you do seek legal advice to understand what can or cannot happen here and what action you can take to protect or secure the great grand children's interests

          Reply
          • Replies to AdamH>

            Comment by Jane posted on

            Thanks again.. we shall look into obtaining legal advice.

  6. Comment by Paul posted on

    I need some help working out which forms to fill in please. I'm dealing with the estate of my late father-in-law. He owned a 40% share of a house as a tenant in common, with his wife owning the other 60% share. His share is bequeathed to his daughter (my wife). How do we transfer his share into his daughter's name? We already have probate, so just need guidance on the appropriate Land Registry forms. Thanks

    Reply
  7. Comment by Jennifer Granville posted on

    I am sole Executor of my mother's estate and one of three beneficiaries - the other two are my brother and step brother. I have Probate and want to purchase their shares of a piece of land that was part of my mother's estate, from my brother and step brother at the agreed valuation. Can I just transfer the ownership of the land into my name and pay them for their shares?

    Reply
    • Replies to Jennifer Granville>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Jennifer - I suspect so but we only deal with the transfer of ownership itself rather than who pays what and any financial/tax implications that may be involved. I'd sugegst making a few wider online enquiries re those issues and online forums such as Money Saving Expert can be useful resources as such matters are often discussed there.

      Reply
  8. Comment by Gail Marsden posted on

    Hello,
    My mum and myself are executors of my late Aunts Will. She has left my mum as the sole beneficiary.
    My Aunt owned a property which has been left to my mum. My mum doesn't want the property and instead wants to put it jointly in mine and my brothers name.
    Would I be able to do this without enlisting a solicitor?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Replies to Gail Marsden>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Gail - that is very much up to you. Using a solicitor is not compulsory and from a registration perspective the executor(s) as named in th eprobate would Transfer (form TR1) the property to the new owners as explained in the above article and in our short guide https://help.landregistry.gov.uk/app/contactus_bereavement?utm_medium=GOV.UK&utm_source=govuk&utm_campaign=death_contact_page_to_guide&utm_content=web_page
      I would suggest reading the areticle and working through the short guide and forms before deciding whether to do this yourselves or not. The registration aspects are often only part of the process for dealing with a deceased's estate and you also often have to consider other matters such as your own wills, existing property ownership(s), inheritance tax etc so we always recommend getting legal/financial advice as well

      Reply
  9. Comment by JC posted on

    I am Administrator of my late aunt's estate. She died intestate with one sister benefitting. I have a Limited probate ("letters of administration") naming the surviving sister. The surviving sister has completed a Deed of Variation such that my sister and I inherit the majority of the estate including the house equally.

    Am I right in simply sending you AP1 naming me and my sister as the 2 transferees together with ID1 for my sister?

    Reply
    • Replies to JC>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      JC - you will also need the legal deed which transfers ownership so form AS1 if the ownership is going to the beneficiary or TR1 if to anyone else. ID1s are required for any other party not named as the executor in the letters of administration

      Reply
      • Replies to AdamH>

        Comment by JC posted on

        Thank you so much for your prompt reply. To clarify, since on the phone your colleague mentioned AS1, I use TR1 with the Transferor being the deceased and the Transferees the niece and nephew, whilst sending you a certified copy of the deed in which the original beneficiary (in this case the sister under the intestacy rules) confirms the substitute legacies. Consideration in panel 8 would be Box 2 not for money or for value. So much seems logical but some of the technical language hinders comprehension.

        The important point is to be clear that transfer is direct from deceased to substitute legatees and I would be obliged if you could confirm that to be the case if TR1 is completed in this fashion. Thanks again.

        Reply
        • Replies to JC>

          Comment by AdamH posted on

          JC - the deceased cannot transfer their ownership so any dealings with the property would be completed by the executor as named in probate or administrator if there are letters of administration. So the executor/administrator transfers the property to the beneficiary using forms AP1, AS1 and ID1 as appropriate. If it is to anyone else then it is AP1, TR1 and ID1.
          If you are uncertain as to what is required and the technical language involved I would strongly recommend seeking legal advice/assistance. I think this may be especially useful as you refer to terms such as 'substitute legacies' for example which I assume relate to the will/beneficiaries and arrangements around the deceased's estate. We deal with the legal ownership of the property.

          Reply
          • Replies to AdamH>

            Comment by JC posted on

            Thank you Adam. So I complete TR1 with my name as Administrator in Panel 4 and the names of Transferees (me and my sister) in Panel 5. You will need the Letters of Administration; do you still need a copy of the Deed of Variation?

          • Replies to JC>

            Comment by AdamH posted on

            JC - correct and no re the variation

  10. Comment by Sophie posted on

    Hi, we are trying to buy a property where the male owner died a while ago and the female owner died more recently. The land registry shows both names however the male owners death certificate shows a middle name that doesn't appear on the registry. Our solicitor is saying that the missing name needs to be added or it won't be possible to transfer it all in to our names. The sellers are being told by their solicitor that it is not necessary to add the missing name. We are now getting to the point where our chain will collapse if this isn't resolved soon. Who's right? Does the name need to be added or not?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Replies to Sophie>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Sophie - that's really something for the solicitors to resolve between them and often it's the lender who insists on everything aligning corectly re names for example. From a registration perspective if there is a discrepancy between the name on the register and the death certificate then we will accept a certificate from a conveyancer that they are one and the same person. You may wish to refer your solicitor to panel 8 of form DJP which would be used if merely registering the death with us. By implication it follows that we would look for the same certificate from the solicitor when lodging the death certificate along with an application to register a purchase. Your solicitor would though need to be satisfied that they were one and the same and as such would be very reliant on the seller/their solicitor to confirm that to them in some way.
      But as mentioned one to discuss and clarify with your solicitor as there may be a wider requirement involved here

      Reply
  11. Comment by caroline ruth dart posted on

    Hi,
    I have inherited a property from my brother who was the sole owner. On AP1 form, section 4, would I put inherited in the applications column? Also on form AS1, on panel 12, the execution, do I have to write 'signed as a deed etc' or just sign and have witnessed? Thank you for any help.
    Caroline

    Reply
  12. Comment by Gary Malyon posted on

    A husband and wife both on their second marriage and with children from their respective first marriages, made wills leaving their respective halves of the house to their respective children. With a life interest of residency to the surviving spouse. They also owned the house as tenants in common.
    Husband died, spouse refused to sign transfer forms in order to add trustees to deeds. Can the executor who has grant of probate, do this without spouse's cooperation ?
    Without this the children's interest of H's beneficial interest appears precarious.

    Reply
    • Replies to Gary Malyon>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Gary - the legal ownership has passed the surviving joint owner so the executor for the deceased cannot transfer that ownership. The children's interest is int he deceased's half of the beneficial ownership and from what you have posted that appears to be protected by the wills and the tenancy in common. I would recommend seeking legal advice from a solicitor familiar with wills and trusts to ascertain how precarious the position is and what happens next re their interest

      Reply
  13. Comment by caroline ruth dart posted on

    Hi, I have paid off the mortgage now on an inherited property from my brother but have not yet received confirmation from the mortgage provider. Do I have to wait for this before I can send the assent forms to land registry?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Replies to caroline ruth dart>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Caroline - you do not have to but worth checking with the lender as they often discharge their charge electronically so it is done quite quickly.

      Reply
  14. Comment by Donna nash posted on

    My fruend is in a house with her husband he is the beneficiary on the house his sister is egzecutor of the house both parents died awhile ago morgage is payed of but the sister has name on the deeds still is it half her house the beneficiary says his sister dont get any money of the house but she let her brother stay ther with wife kids will is still un brobate they have not reorted the death of ther mother he got no house insurance is he claiming not saying anything so he can stay the will says house has to b sold when his mum dies but the beneficiary and egzecutor hv not dun this is this against the law and the will wilm they b in trouble

    Reply
    • Replies to Donna nash>

      Comment by AdamH posted on

      Donna - it's legal advice you need here to understand what rights the beneficiaries have and how the executors should act. We do not deal with those matters directly

      Reply
  15. Comment by Ian Barnett posted on

    Adam
    My uncle passed away last year, my brother and I were named executors, ( unbeknown to me!), my brother passed away before my uncle. I am applying for probate. A solicitor has stated that as the property, As a tenant in common basis, has to have the executor name applied to the title deed, and that 2 executors are needed?.
    any advice??
    thank you

    Reply

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