June 10, 2020

Dealing With Probate Property: The First Steps

This post was written by: Jade Gani

Home Insurance:

One of the first and most important things you should do following the death of a loved one is to make sure their home insurance is updated. You should also check over any new home insurance policy and note any terms that will require action from you. 

If the house is empty, the insurers will likely want the property to be visited regularly to make sure it is secure. You may wish to change the locks or secure windows to ensure that nobody unauthorised can access it.

If the Property is still occupied:

If the property remains occupied by you or another family member, then you should consider transferring all the household related accounts over to the appropriate name. Common ones to remember are:-

  1. Gas, Water & Electricity
  2. TV Subscription & Broadband
  3. Council Tax

If the property remains occupied because it is let out to tenants, then you will need to contact the managing agents to notify them of the death. They will likely need to deal with the Executors or Personal Representatives of the Estate. If there is no managing agent then you should contact the tenants to notify them of the situation. You should also look into whether they had a proper Tenancy Agreement in place and if their deposit was protected with a deposit scheme. Some deposit protection schemes to check with include:

  • Deposit Protection Service: 0330 303 0030 or www.depositprotection.com
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme: www.tenancydepositscheme.com
  • My Deposits: 0333 321 9401 or www.mydeposits.co.uk

If you cannot find evidence of a protected deposit or Tenancy Agreement then you should contact a solicitor for advice.

If the Property is Empty:

If the property is empty then you should make sure the property is secure. If squatters occupy the property you should contact a solicitor without delay. The police are unlikely to assist you with squatters and it may require Court action to remove them.

You should also consider having the utilities shut off if it is likely the property will be empty for a long time.  Some insurers may require you to shut of the supply. If you are able to, you should take meter readings. If you cannot locate the meter then you can contact the provider and ask them to conduct the reading on your behalf.

You should visit the property regularly and make sure it is properly ventilated to prevent damp and mould. If you notice any damage to the property you should take steps to prevent it from getting any worse. You may also find that some post has continued to be sent to the address and, if related to the Deceased, you should check through it to ensure that you haven’t missed any bills or notices.

If you are unable to undertake any of the above then you should make arrangements for someone else to do this for you. If you have any questions in relation to a probate property then contact our dedicated Wills & Probate team on 01753 48677 or jgani@astonbond.co.uk as they would be happy to assist you.