The death of a parent can be a difficult and grief-filled time. In addition to the loss of a loved one, there can be a lot of legal paperwork to deal with, including the transfer of property such as a family home to the deceased's heir. Fortunately, the right preparations and assistance can make this process very simple.
England and Wales
Determine the state of your parent's will. If a valid will exists, an individual will be named as executor. This person is responsible for transferring the deceased's property to his or her heirs. If there is no valid will, the courts will issue letters of administration appointing an administrator, usually a family member or other associate, to oversee the transfer.
Locate the deeds and other documents pertaining to the property. The owner of the property, the mortgage lender, or the owner's solicitor may hold the deeds. The exact documents demonstrating ownership will vary depending on when the property was acquired.
Register your ownership of the property with an assent. This involves contacting the Land Registry and providing a number of documents. You will need to complete two registration forms, as well as providing the letters of administration or grant of probate, paying a fee and demonstrating that you have paid stamp duty on the land. In most cases, stamp duty will not apply, but the relevant form must still be submitted. Full details of the procedure can be found on the Land Registry website, listed below.
Identify the state of your deceased parent's will. In Scotland, if there is a will, the executors will apply to the Sheriff Court to receive a Grant of Confirmation, which gives them the power to execute the deceased's will. If your parent died intestate, executors will be appointed to distribute the property in accordance with Scottish law. If the deceased died intestate and the property is valued at over £300,000, it may have to be sold to meet the estate's legal obligations to other beneficiaries.
Examine the deeds to the property. This will take place as part of the process of commission, in which the executors assess the value of the deceased's estate and determine what assets are available to be distributed to the beneficiaries.
Register the transfer of property with the Land Register of Scotland. The executor will usually carry out this task, which involves submitting the Grant of Confirmation to the Land Register to prove that the executor has the authority to transfer the property.
Receive either a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration from the Probate Office. The procedure for granting probate or administration in Northern Ireland is very similar to the procedure in England and Wales. If your parent died intestate and you are resident in the UK, you can apply to be the executor yourself. However, if you live outside the UK, you will need a solicitor to act on your behalf.
Locate the title to the land. This may take the form of an older deed or a newer Land Registry certificate.
Register the transfer of title with the Land Registry, part of the Department of Finance and Personnel. In fact, registration is not compulsory in Northern Ireland because no money is changing hands. However, registration simplifies title and provides additional protection for your property. You or the executor should submit the land certificate or deed and the letters of administration or grant of probate, fill out the relevant Land Registry form, confirm your identity and pay the appropriate fee.
Although in most cases it's possible to perform the transfer procedures yourself, it takes a lot of work and you may be liable if there are errors. The best course of action is to seek professional legal advice from a solicitor.