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Transferring Property after Death

5th April 2017

When a person passes away, there are lots of things to deal with, one of which is to change the name on the Title Deed of any property he or she may have owned. How this transfer takes place will depend on how the property was owned by that person, for example, whether it was in joint names with somebody else who is still living, or in the sole name of the person who has died. 

Sole Owner

The most straightforward situation is when the property is in the sole name of the person who has died and the land is registered, meaning that it is registered with the Land Registry. In these cases, the Personal Representative can transfer the property, called an ‘Assent’, to the person who is entitled to the property under the deceased person’s Estate.

To do this, the Executor, or Administrator if there is no Will, will need to submit 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 this cannot be done without a Grant of Representation, as this tells the Land Registry that the Personal Representatives have authority to transfer the property.

This is also the case where the property is to be sold. The Personal Representative can sign the transfer document that will transfer the property to the person/people who have bought it.

Joint Owners

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

Joint Tenants

If the person who has passed away owned the property as Joint Tenants with a person who is still living, their share of the property will automatically pass to the survivor. In order to transfer the property to the surviving joint owner, a death certificate simply needs to be sent in to the Land Registry and they will transfer the property into the sole name of the surviving joint owner.

This will happen regardless of who the property is left to in the person’s Will. For instance, the person who has died may have left the property to A in their Will, but they own the property as Joint Tenants with B. This means that a 50% share of the property (it is always 50%) will pass to B and A will receive nothing.

If the deeds to the property are unregistered, it is possible to place a death certificate of the person who has passed away with the deeds. However, it’s advisable to register the deeds with the Land Registry at this point. The property will then be registered in the name of the surviving joint owner.

Tenants in Common

If the person who has passed away owns the property as Tenants in Common with another person, the position is that their share of the property must be dealt with in accordance with their Will, or the Rules of Intestacy if there is no Will.

In these situations, it may be that the deceased’s share is not 50%, but say perhaps 30%. Whatever the share is, it must be dealt with under their Estate. 

To deal with the transfer of the property under their Estate, 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 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 in these circumstances will be a trigger for first registration and the deeds will need to be registered first. The application for the registration and the transfer can take place at the same time.

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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