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Public Guide 9 – What to do when a land owner dies

Updated: June 2014

This edition of the guide replaces the January 2014 edition. Section 2.1 has been added (and other changes made) due to a change in policy for applications which are not first registrations, under which we will need only certified copies of deeds or documents you send to us with Land Registry applications. Other than the exceptions set out below, all documents sent to us, including originals, will be scanned and destroyed.

What this guide covers

When a person dies and they own land that will be inherited by someone else, it is normally necessary to register the change of ownership at Land Registry. This guide explains what you should do.

We are happy to answer your queries in connection with the change of ownership, but we cannot give advice on how the estate should be administered or the legal effect of a particular course of action. For the answers to these questions you will need to seek professional legal advice.

1 How do I find out whether the person who has died owned any land?

In most cases the person who has died will have title deeds for any land they owned. These deeds might be at home, or held for safe keeping by a solicitor or bank. If the land is mortgaged then the lender will usually hold the deeds as security. If the land is not registered, the title deeds will consist of a collection of deeds and documents which include the deed of the land to the person who has died. If the land is registered and there have not been any alterations to the register after 13 October 2003 the title document will consist of a land certificate, or charge certificate if the land is mortgaged. If there have been alterations to the register after 13 October 2003 the title will consist of a title information document.

If you would like to find out what registered properties the person who has died owned or to see a copy of any register, please contact Customer Support (see Contact details) and we will explain what you need to do. You should be aware that a fee is payable for each service.

2 In what ways can personal representatives deal with the estate?

By law, Land Registry always has to assume that personal representatives (a collective term meaning either the executor - the representative of someone who has a valid will - or administrator - the representative of someone who has no valid will) are acting within their powers. We are not empowered to investigate whether any transfer is in accordance with a will.

Personal representatives might:

  • become the registered owners in their capacity as personal representatives – see section 3.1 Registration of the personal representatives

  • transfer the property to the beneficiary (someone entitled to benefit under a trust or will), or to the executor as trustee, by a deed called an assent (they can do this without being registered as owners first) – see section 3.2 Registering the beneficiaries of the estate (assents)

  • transfer the property to someone else in their capacity as personal representatives – see section 3.3 Transfer to a third party

  • discharge a mortgage if the person who has died was the lender – see section 3.4 Discharge of mortgage where the person who has died was the lender.

2.1 Sending docuemnts to us

We will always return original death certificates and grants of probate/letters of administration. However other deeds and documents will be scanned and then destroyed whether they are the originals or copies.

If you want to keep the original of a document you should not send it to us. Instead you should make a photocopy and then certify that this is a true copy of the original. This is done by simply writing “I certify that this is a true copy of the original” and signing at the top of page 1.

There is one exception: if your house is not registered, then you need to send any original documents in your possession, which we will return. 

3 Death of a sole (or sole surviving) proprietor of a registered legal estate

3.1 Registration of the personal representatives

Personal representatives can become the registered owners of a property. This option might be used if, say, the beneficiary of the will is under age. In this case, the personal representatives become the registered owner, but only as personal representatives of the deceased.

You will need to send us:

  • a completed form AP1 (PDF, 89KB)

  • the original or official copy of the grant of probate (the document appointing an executor)/letters of administration (the document appointing an administrator). We will return this to you.

  • the appropriate fee. Please contact Customer Support for information on the fee payable (see Contact details).

NB: See section 2.1 Sending documents to us regarding what we will do with documents sent to us. 

Once they are registered as owners, personal representatives can later transfer (see section 3.3 Transfer to a third party) or assent (see section 3.2 Registering the beneficiaries of the estate (assents)) the property.

When an administrator dies without a valid will, letters de bonis non administrandis are needed for their administrator to deal with the original estate the first administrator was dealing with.

3.2 Registering the beneficiaries of the estate (assents)

The beneficiaries of the estate can also become the registered owners by an assent (a deed supported by the grant of probate or letters of administration).

In this case, you will need to send us:

Use form AS2 (PDF, 74KB) if the person who has died is the proprietor of a mortgage.

Use form AS3 (PDF, 88KB) if the personal representatives are only assenting part of the land in a registered title.

Forms AS1 to AS3 cannot be used to assent the beneficial share of a deceased joint owner

  • the original or official copy of the grant of probate/letters of administration (we will return this to you)

  • stamp duty land tax certificate or self-certificate, if appropriate (HM Revenue & Customs's website contains more information on stamp duty land tax)

  • the appropriate fee. Please contact Customer Support for information on the fee payable (see Contact details).

NB: See section 2.1 Sending documents to us regarding what we will do with documents sent to us. 

3.3 Transfer to a third party

You will need to send us:

If the person who has died is proprietor of a mortgage, you will need form TR3 to transfer the mortgage.

  • the original or official copy of the grant of probate/letters of administration (we will return this to you)

  • the appropriate stamp duty land tax certificate or self-certificate

  • the appropriate fee. Please contact Customer Support for information on the fee payable (see Contact details).

NB: See section 2.1 Sending documents to us regarding what we will do with documents sent to us. 

3.4 Discharge of mortgage where the person who has died was the lender

You will need to send us:

No fee is payable.

NB: See section 2.1 Sending documents to us regarding what we will do with documents sent to us. 

3.5 Death of a sole owner of a registered estate

If any of the above options are unavailable, you may wish to register the fact that the owner has died.

In this case you will need to send us:

  • a completed form AP1 (PDF, 89KB)

  • evidence of death (the original or official copy of the death certificate, the grant of probate or letters of administration).

NB: See section 2.1 Sending documents to us regarding what we will do with documents sent to us. 

See also Public Guide 17 – How to safeguard against property fraud.

4 Death of a joint proprietor

You will need to send us:

  • a completed form DJP (PDF, 46KB)

  • evidence of death (the original or official copy of the death certificate, the grant of probate or letters of administration).

No fee is payable.

NB: See section 2.1 Sending documents to us regarding what we will do with documents sent to us. 

5 Death of an owner of an unregistered legal estate

5.1 The person who has died is the sole owner or last surviving joint owner

We cannot register a deceased person as owner of land. Where there has been an assent or transfer by the personal representatives you will have to apply for first registration of the property. See Public Guide 13 – Applications for first registration of land by the owner in person for information on how to do this.

5.2 The person who has died is a joint owner and at least one other joint owner is still living

You do not need to involve Land Registry, but you can register the property voluntarily if you wish. To do this, you should seek professional legal advice.

6 General information

6.1 Fees

You can pay by cheque or postal order made payable to Land Registry. Alternatively, if you visit one of our offices you may also pay by cash or credit/debit card. For information and advice on the correct fee to pay, please look at the Fees section on our website or contact Customer Support (see Contact details).

6.2 Forms

All the forms mentioned in this guide are available to members of the public free of charge from Customer Support (see Contact details), or you can download them from our website at www.landregistry.gov.uk

6.3 Where to send your application

Members of the public lodging applications on their own behalf should send their application to:

Citizen Centre
Land Registry Wales Office
Tŷ Cwm Tawe
Phoenix Way
Llansamlet
Swansea
SA7 9FQ

All other applicants should refer to Office Finder or Practice Guide 51 – Where to send paper applications, available to view or download from our website.

6.4 Keeping the register up to date

Please let us know if your name or address changes. If you do not do this, you may not receive important information from us. To change your details, please write to the Land Registry office dealing with your area and include any additional evidence that seems appropriate, such as a marriage certificate for change of name. You may give up to three addresses for service, one of which must be a postal address but does not have to be within the UK. The other addresses can be any combination of a postal address, a box number at a UK document exchange or an email address.

Checklist

Before sending your application to Land Registry, please check that you have:

  • enclosed the correct forms

  • filled in the forms correctly

  • signed the forms

  • enclosed the correct fee

  • enclosed any necessary evidence

  • identified the correct Land Registry office.

Important: please double-check all details, such as the property description, title number and dates. In particular, please check the full names of individuals where they appear in more than one place, such as the names of personal representatives and beneficiaries.

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