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A cartoon house revealed in a stack of money. SAM Conveyancing helps with how to transfer property to the beneficiary after the sole owner has died

Transferring property to a beneficiary when sole owner dies

21/04/2020
(Last Updated: 12/04/2024)
1,890
7 min read
Key Takeaways
  • You must apply and have your identity verified at the same appointment.
  • Top Tip: Removing the name of a deceased person from a house deed keeps the Land Register up-to-date and provides accurate ownership details.
  • The Land Registry does not charge a fee to verify identity but a solicitor is likely to.

Transferring property to a beneficiary when the sole owner dies is a fairly straightforward process, as long as the property title is registered at the Land Registry.

Whoever handles the estate is responsible for transferring the property to the inheritor. If there is a Will, the terms must be adhered to, but if there isn't one then the beneficiary is decided by inheritance laws.

This article describes the overall Land Registry process and delves into how it works.

Click if you're looking for information about Inheriting a House After Death.



Finding out how the property is owned

Before dealing with a property, it is important to define its ownership status and registration details. The Land Registry website is a useful resource to find information about a property.

If the property is registered, you can download a document that includes the property title, the name(s) of the registered owner(s), and whether it was owned solely or jointly with another person.

It is crucial to know whether the property was owned as ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’ if it was collectively owned. This distinction will determine how the property will be inherited.

However, some properties are not recorded on the Land Registry website, particularly those in remote locations or owned by families for an extended period.

In such cases, the physical deed document may be available in the deceased person's property, along with other significant documents such as the Will, or these records could be held with their bank or solicitor.


Want to explore Power of Attorney options for gifting to family?


A title deed with a model house placed on top of the document. Transferring property to a beneficiary when sole owner dies, SAM Conveyancing

The Land Registry process


    1

    Which documents do you need to send to the Land Registry?

For transferring property to a beneficiary when a sole owner dies, you'll need to complete:

  • form AS1 - Whole of registered title: assent
  • form AP1 - Change the register

You'll also need to send a certified copy of evidence of death which can be either of the following:

    2

    How do you prove your identity?

If you want to apply yourself, everyone involved needs to have their identity proven.

You can do this at the HM Land Registry office or by going to a solicitor. The Land Registry does not charge a fee to verify identity, but a solicitor is likely to.

If you want to go to the HM Land Registry office, you'll need to make an appointment. Everyone who needs to have their identity verified must come to the same appointment.

    3

    What items do you need to bring with you?

You'll need to bring:

  • The completed forms and documents for your application.
  • A completed identity form ID1 for each person (click to find out more).
  • A passport-sized photograph taken in the last 3 months for each person.

You must apply and have your identity verified at the same appointment.

You do not need to send evidence of identity for personal representatives named on the probate or letters of administration.

    4

    How much does it cost?

The fee is based on the value of the property under scale 2 of the Land Registry's registration services fees (click to find out what these are).

    5

    Where do you send your application to?

Send your application to:

HM Land Registry Citizen Centre, PO Box 74, Gloucester, GL14 9BB

Unsure on what to do?

If you are in any way unsure of how to find property documentation or the path to transfer a loved one's property asset to the rightful owner, we advise hiring legal advisors to help with the heavy lifting

The costs can depend on the size and complexity of the estate, but for a free consultation with a specialist, contact us below.


A house floating on water with keys placed in the back garden. Can ownership of the property be transferred without probate? SAM Conveyancing

Can ownership of the property be transferred without probate?

Probate is a legal process that freezes a deceased person's assets until they are evaluated and assessed for their value.

This process can take several months to complete, during which time the property cannot be sold. Executors or Administrators of the estate cannot legally sell a house until Probate is granted.

Dealing with the property of a deceased individual may not necessarily require probate, but in cases where the deceased's estate requests it, it may be.

In circumstances where the property owner has a Will, the executors will acquire a Grant of Probate giving them the authority to sell the property or transfer its ownership to the person named beneficiary in the Will.

However, if there is no Will, the owner's closest relative can apply for Letters of Administration, which grants them permission to either sell the property or transfer its ownership following the Rules of Intestacy.

Marketing a probate property before probate is granted

Marketing a property before probate is granted is a viable option. This approach can potentially speed up the sale and shorten the time it takes to complete the probate process.

Even though you may not have the legal authority to sell the property before probate is granted, you can still market it to forge interest.

It's crucial to mention in your marketing materials that the property is subject to probate and that the sale is conditional upon the grant of probate. This helps potential buyers understand the situation and prevents any misunderstandings.

Once probate is granted, you can move forward with the sale. No chain often makes probate properties attractive to potential buyers, but delays can cause concerns.


Transferring property owned by joint owners

When two individuals own a property equally without one person holding a larger portion than the other, it is referred to as "joint tenants."

It's important to note that this does not mean the property is split 50/50 between the owners, as neither owner has an exact, recognised share.

When it comes to transferring the ownership of a property that was jointly owned with someone else, the process can be a bit more complex.

There are two types of joint ownership: joint tenancy and tenancy in common, each with its own set of rules and procedures.


Two people sat down with a Land Registry representative. Transferring property owned by joint owners with SAM Conveyancing

Joint tenants

On one owner's death, the surviving joint owner (or owners) automatically inherit the whole property. This happens regardless of whether the deceased left their stake of the property to someone else in the Will.

The death certificate will need to be sent to the Land Registry to transfer the property into the sole name of the surviving joint owner.

If the property is owned as joint tenants but unregistered, you should register the property with the Land Registry to officially transfer to the surviving tenant's sole name.

Tenants in common

When a property is owned together as tenants in common, each owner has a separate exact share. If one of the owners passes away, their share must be dealt with as per their Will or the rules of intestacy if there is no will.

To transfer a property owned in this way, the surviving owner can action this without requiring a grant of representation. If the property is not registered with the Land Registry, it needs to be registered before the transfer can take place.

With an unregistered property title, the death of a co-owner does not initiate the first registration. However, first registration is compulsory if the co-owner intends to transfer the title to add beneficiaries.


Do you need to transfer a property to a beneficiary?

We can help with navigating the legalities. Get in touch and we can refer you to one of our specialists.

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Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.


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