Firm Announcements and Legal Updates

What Happens To Land When A Landowner Dies?

Everyone has a fair idea if what happens when a property owner dies, and to whom the property then belongs to. However, what about land? There are many landowners in the UK; is there anything special they need to do regarding their land for when they pass away?

In essence, the landowner themselves don’t have to do anything as such, although it is best if they write a will. The executor or administrator of the estate, however, will need to do some additional work when land is involved. The first thing they will need to do is ascertain exactly how much land is in question; this can usually be done from the deeds. Where to find those deeds is another matter, but they will most often be with a solicitor or stored at a bank. Alternatively they may be kept with the testator’s paperwork, and will need to be found. It could be that the will is registered with a company such as Willfinda, in which case the deeds may be with it.

It should then be determined whether or not there is a mortgage on the land. If so, the mortgage provider may actually have the deeds as they are used as security when there is a mortgage involved.

The Land Registry need to be informed of the death as there will be a change of ownership regarding the land. It is far easier to do this if you have sight of the deeds.

For ease and time’s sake, it is best if the executor becomes the registered owner of the land throughout the probate period. Ownership can then be transferred (using something known as an ‘assent’) to the beneficiary once probate has been completed. There will be times when the beneficiary is able to take ownership immediately, in which case the executor need not apply for the land.

The executor must complete specific forms as well. The first is the AP1, and if they are not taking ownership of the land, the AS1 should also be completed – this is if they are registering a change of ownership on behalf of a beneficiary. If there is a mortgage on the land, the AS2 will also need to be completed.

Once the Grant of Probate is received, this will need to be sent to the Land Registry

Tony Crocker