What to do if you have inherited an empty property
Probate and Estate Administration:
- If a next of kin died with a Will in place this Will name the executor of the Will, the person who should deal with the distribution of the estate.
- If a relative has died without a Will in place, this is call 'dying intestate'; and their next of kin is legally required to 'administer the estate'.
This means they must follow the 'rules of intestacy' and manage all the activities involved in closing down the deceased's estate. This would include:
- Getting valuations on any properties
- Collection and distribution of the estate
- Paying any taxes from the estate if necessary
- Legal and administrative activities
The purpose of probate is simple, to pay debts the deceased owes and to transfer any assets to the beneficiaries of the Will or next of kin.
In some circumstances the Executor of the Will or the Administrator of the Estate must apply for probate. This means they are applying for permission to deal with the deceased estate.
Probate is required when:
- When a property is held in the sole name of the deceased or as tenants in common
- When the deceased held financial assets worth £5,000 or more with banks or building societies
- When banks or building societies holding the assets require a grant of probate to release the funds
- When the deceased benefited from a trust during their lives.
If the deceased has not made a Will a grant can be made by the next of kin, usually in the following order:
- Husband, wife or civil partner
- Sons and daughters
- Brothers and sisters
- More distant relatives including cousins, aunts and uncles
There are three types of Grant of Representation:
- Probate (when the deceased person left a valid Will and an executor is acting)
- Letters of administration with will (when a person has left a valid Will but no executor is acting), or
- Letters of administration (usually when there is no valid Will).
Probate can be a very long and time consuming process and there are professional legal organisations that can act on your behalf and complete this process for you for a fee.
There are websites that explain the process and others that can offer advice and support:
- The Probate Service:
Part of the Government's Court Service which issues probate. Some of the forms required can be downloaded from this site. Also gives details of local probate registries.
See: Probate Service on the gov.uk website
- Probate & Inheritance tax helpline:
Provided by Revenue and Customs, they can send forms for probate in the post as well as answering questions.
See: Wills, Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline on the gov.uk website
See: Probate and inheritance tax helpline on the gov.uk website
- The Bereavement Advice Centre:
They can provide you with information, advice and support when dealing with a death.
See: The Bereavement Advice Centre website
Please be aware that there are currently several Probate scams in operation via the Internet. Many of these will inform the recipient that they are the beneficiary of a substantial legacy but will ask for fees and/or taxes in advance of sending more information or the release of funds.
These will always be fraudulent and on no account should you make any payment or transfer any funds. You can obtain further information and advice concerning such scams via the links below. You will also find information about reporting such activity to the police, as the police may be able to close down the e-mail accounts concerned.
The nearest Probate Office for the Adur and Worthing area is:
- Brighton District Probate Registry Office - contact details are on the HM Courts & Tribunals Service website
Contact Private Sector Housing
Private Sector Housing,
Adur & Worthing Councils,
44 Richmond Road,