Transferring Property after Death

27 August 2019


When a homeowner dies, their property will either need to be sold or transferred. In this article, we explain how to transfer property ownership after a homeowner's death and update the Title Deeds with the name of the new owner.

The process for transferring the property and the person responsible for this will depend on how the property was owned by the deceased. So, the first thing to establish is whether it was owned jointly with another person, or if it was owned in the sole name of the deceased.

Transferring Property Owned By a Sole Owner

If the property is owned in the sole name of the deceased and the property title is registered at the Land Registry, then the transfer process is relatively straight forward.

The Executor or Administrator will need to transfer the property to the person who is entitled to inherit under the terms of the Will (if there is one) or inheritance laws (if there isn't).

If the property is to be transferred to a beneficiary the Executor or Administrator will need to submit a document called an 'Assent' to the Land Registry, with a copy of the Grant of Representation. The Land Registry will then transfer the property into the name of the new owner.

It's important to note that the property cannot be transferred without a Grant of Representation, as this tells the Land Registry that the Personal Representative has the authority to transfer the property.

This is also applies if the property is to be sold. The Grant of Representation gives the Personal Representative authority to sign the transfer document that will transfer the property to the buyers.

Transferring Property Owned By Joint Owners

The transfer process is slightly more complicated if the deceased owned the property in joint names with someone else. There are two different ways in which property can be jointly owned; as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common.

Joint Tenants

If the property is owned jointly as joint tenants, neither person owns a specific or identifiable share of the property. On one owner's death, the surviving joint owner (or owners) will automatically inherit the whole of the property. This will happen regardless of who the property is left to in the deceased's Will.

In order to transfer the property into the sole name of the surviving joint owner, a death certificate simply needs to be sent in to the Land Registry, who will update the title. If the deeds to the property are unregistered, it is possible to place a death certificate with the deeds, but it's advisable to register the title with the Land Registry at this point. Once this has been done, the property will then be registered in the name of the surviving joint owner.

Tenants in Common

If the property is owned jointly as tenants in common, then each owner will own a specific share. This is often 50% but it can be divided in any proportion. The deceased's share of the property must be dealt with in accordance with their Will, or the Rules of Intestacy if there is no Will.

To deal with the transfer of a property owned as tenants in common, the surviving joint owner is the person who has the authority to deal with any transfer. This may or may not be the Personal Representative. The Land Registry will therefore not require sight of the Grant of Representation in order to deal with the legal title before transferring the property, as they need only act on the instructions of the surviving joint owner.

If the deeds to the property are not registered, any transfer of the legal title in these circumstances will be a trigger for first registration. The application for the registration and the transfer can take place at the same time.

Where the property title is unregistered, death of a co-owner does not trigger first registration and the death certificate can just be placed with the deeds. However, if the co-owner wishes to transfer the title to add the deceased co-owner's beneficiaries then first registration is compulsory.

This is all part of our Probate Complete Service, where we take full responsibility for getting the Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excluding VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs.

We can also pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral, providing the Estate has sufficient financial assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs.

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