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Can You Insure a House That Is Going Through Probate?

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Insuring a house that is going through probate is an absolute must. It may seem like an unnecessary additional expense; however, we have seen arson attacks on empty properties resulting in a loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Even if you buy a policy, the cover maybe restricted or some with certain conditions which must be met.

Here at Property Saviour, we will reimburse you the cost of insurance if you sell your property to us.  Or we can quickly exchange contracts and put the property on our insurance cover.

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Table of Contents

Can you insure a house that is going through probate?

Yes, it’s possible to insure a house during probate, and it is actually the responsibility of the executor(s) to safeguard the assets of the deceased’s estate. Typically, the deceased would have already had insurance on the property, so it’s advisable to contact the existing insurer before making any new arrangements.

You can insure a house that’s going through probate. However, you will require a specialist empty homes insurance policy with full cover. 

Understanding probate and property issues after death

Probate is the legal procedure for managing the estate of someone who has passed away, which includes their assets like property, money, and personal belongings, collectively known as their estate. These assets must be distributed according to the wishes outlined in their will or according to the rules of intestacy if no valid will exists.

This procedure can be intricate, requiring substantial time and involving both legal and financial details, leading executors or administrators to often seek the help of a solicitor or a probate expert.

The probate process involves several steps, including obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. The choice between these documents depends on whether or not the deceased left a will. These documents give the executor (if there is a will) or the administrator (if there is no will) the authority to manage the estate.

How do you deal with property when someone dies?

We should all consider our estate planning needs. While the topic may seem morbid, it ultimately simplifies matters for our loved ones when necessary. Upon someone’s passing, one of three common scenarios typically unfolds concerning their property:

1. The deceased’s spouse or partner plans to continue residing in the home.
2. The home is inhabited by dependents of the deceased or future heirs.
3. The home remains unoccupied.

Regardless of the scenario, it is important to inform the current home insurance provider. This ensures compliance with any necessary conditions for maintaining valid insurance coverage, especially if the property is unoccupied. Remember, the buildings and contents insurance might be managed by different companies.

What happens when a joint owner of a property dies?

When a joint property owner dies, the legal status of the surviving owner depends on the type of joint ownership, which is typically categorised in two ways:

  1. Joint Tenancy: In this arrangement, two or more individuals own the property with equal and indivisible shares. Therefore, if one joint tenant dies, their share automatically transfers to the remaining joint tenant(s). The deceased’s share does not become part of their estate and is not subject to probate. Consequently, the surviving joint tenant(s) continue to own the property without interruption.
  2. Tenancy in Common: Unlike joint tenancy, each owner holds a specific portion of the property. If one owner passes away, their portion becomes part of their estate, goes through probate, and is distributed as per their will or according to state intestacy laws. The surviving owner(s) keep their original share but may end up sharing ownership with the deceased’s beneficiaries, who inherit their portion.


The type of ownership is typically specified in the property’s legal documents. However, if it is not explicitly stated, the ownership is generally presumed to be a joint tenancy.

Does a house have to be sold when someone dies?

In brief, no. The decision of what to do with a property after the owner’s death rests with the estate’s beneficiaries. They might choose to sell it, but they could also opt to keep it, either to rent out or to live in themselves.

How long do you have to sell a house after someone dies?

You can list a property for sale at any time after someone passes away, but be aware that you cannot finalise the sale until you receive a grant of probate. Although it’s possible to market the property beforehand, completion of the sale must wait for this legal step.

What is classed as an unoccupied house?

In insurance terms, an unoccupied property is a building with no one living there. Even if the property is furnished, it is classified as unoccupied or empty if no one lives there.

What is probate house insurance?

Probate house insurance is generally needed only when a property is unoccupied. Most standard home insurance policies do not cover a vacant property for over 30 days. Therefore, probate house insurance provides necessary coverage, albeit with certain conditions that must be adhered to.

For instance, executors are often required to inspect the property periodically—typically weekly or fortnightly—to check for any damage or signs of break-ins. They must ensure the property is kept at a minimum temperature during winter to prevent the pipes from freezing.

Can you insure a house that is going through probate
Empty insurance cover requires weekly inspections, an alarm or CCTV plus property maintained in good condition.

Who needs to organise insurance for the empty house?

The deceased’s existing insurance policy can be transferred to the executors’ names until they obtain the grant of probate. However, the policy might require modifications if the property remains unoccupied during this time. After the estate is settled, the beneficiary (new owner) can then insure the property under their own name.

When insuring a house in probate, the insurer must confirm that the interested party has an ‘insurable interest’ in the property. This means verifying that the party would suffer a loss should the property be damaged or broken into.

In the case of probate property insurance, this means verifying that the party is the likely eventual owner of the house once all legal proceedings have taken place. This interested party can also be the Executor of a Will.

Who pays house insurance when someone dies?

While the estate is being settled, the executors or their solicitor can organise payments from the deceased’s estate. If that is not feasible, a family member can arrange the payment.

Why insure an empty house?

Unoccupied properties are at a higher risk of experiencing significant losses because no one lives in the property to detect any potential issues that may arise.

For instance, leaking pipes can cause extensive water damage to the structure of the buildings and any contents within.

A fire damaged bungalow that was not insured
A house is expensive to buy or rebuild and a dispute with neighbour can result in arson attack. Above - a property that was attacked with no insurance.

Can a beneficiary insure a house?

Certainly, after the estate has been distributed and they have become the legal owner of the house, they can then insure it under their name.

Does the insurance cover lapse when the policyholder dies?

The existing insurance cover won’t normally lapse, but the insurer will need to be advised as soon as possible as they may apply some conditions. Insurers view unoccupied properties as riskier, so they may want cover to be replaced after a short period if there won’t be anyone living in the property.

When a property becomes unoccupied, it’s essential to inform the insurer to avoid potential complications in the event of a claim. The insurance provider might increase the premium or impose specific requirements such as regular property inspections to mitigate risks such as theft, vandalism, or damage from undetected issues like water leaks. In some cases, insurers may offer a specialised type of coverage known as unoccupied property insurance, which is designed to provide protection tailored to the needs of a property that does not have regular occupants. It is crucial to review the terms and conditions of this coverage to ensure it meets the property owner’s requirements during the period it remains unoccupied.

Can I clear a house before probate?

While it’s okay to start thinking informally about handling possessions not specifically left to named beneficiaries in the deceased’s will, you must wait to clear the property until you have received the grant of probate.

What happens if you leave a house empty?
You should either consider moving into an empty house until it is sold or ask a friend or relative to stay there.

What happens if you leave a house empty?

There are several risks that your property is vulnerable to when left unoccupied.  These risks include:

  1. Burglary:Thieves are more likely to target a home they believe is unoccupied.  Learn how to secure an empty house.
  2. Vandalism:An empty home can be an easy target for vandalism. Common issues include broken windows, graffiti, and arson.
  3. Water Damage:Burst water pipes can pose a significant hazard and are often costly to repair. Properties left empty in winter are particularly at risk.
  4. Fire:Besides the risk of arson, fires can be caused by faulty wiring, gas leaks, or a poorly maintained heating system. The risk of significant damage is much higher in unoccupied properties, as hazards often go unnoticed until it is too late.
  5. Criminal damage:Sadly, criminals target empty properties to convert them into illegal cannabis factories with damage running into tens of thousands of pounds.
  6. Squatters:The longer a home remains unoccupied, the more appealing it becomes to squatters. Evicting squatters can often result in a lengthy and costly legal battle.

Can the insurance company transfer cover to the executor of the will?

There is no need to transfer the existing policy as it can often be amended to include the names of the executors, such as ‘The Executors of Mr. John Smith’.

How to insure an empty house after the death of the owner?

Following the death of a property owner, it is crucial to keep the property insured to protect it while the probate process is completed and before the property is transferred to the estate’s beneficiaries.

What insurance is needed for an unoccupied home?

To protect your unoccupied property and its contents until they are distributed to heirs, you will need unoccupied house insurance. Should you choose to renovate the property before moving in, selling, or leasing it, consider obtaining separate renovation insurance. For properties that you plan to rent out, landlord insurance is essential, as standard home insurance does not cover rental properties.

Why do insurance companies treat unoccupied properties differently?

Unoccupied properties tend to be at a higher risk of break-ins, thefts, or attempted thefts than those inhabited. Being well-informed about the most effective ways to secure an empty house is important.

Such properties are also more prone to problems like malicious damage and water leakage, and they can deteriorate quickly if not properly maintained and cared for.

Financial responsibilities for an empty home

In addition to obtaining insurance for a vacant property, the executor must manage other financial responsibilities, such as paying utility bills and cancelling unnecessary contracts.

Do you have to pay bills on an empty house?

When someone passes away, their estate is responsible for settling any outstanding bills. During the probate period, it is often possible to cancel ongoing services like broadband, phone, and TV packages. You may need to provide a death certificate to facilitate these cancellations.

However, it is advisable to maintain the electricity and gas supplies, as any consumption will still need to be covered, though the costs will be considerably lower than if the property were occupied.

You will likely also want to keep the water and wastewater services active. Even if unused, these essential services incur a daily standing charge. The rates for these charges vary depending on your service provider and the selected package.

Do you pay council tax on an empty property when someone dies?

If you are managing a property after the owner has passed away, you are not required to pay council tax until you have obtained the grant of probate, provided the property is unoccupied. After probate is granted, you might qualify for a council tax exemption for an additional six months, but it’s important to verify this with your local council.

If the property is occupied by a single individual after the owner’s death, you might be eligible for a single-person discount on the council tax. Contacting your local council is advised to confirm eligibility and understand more.

Tips for insuring an empty house

You know how it goes – when a loved one passes away, dealing with their estate can feel like a never-ending maze of paperwork and responsibilities. But one thing you can’t afford to overlook is making sure their property is properly insured while you navigate the probate process.

Having the right home insurance in place will be your saving grace. Not only will it give you peace of mind knowing the assets are protected, but it’ll also help you fulfil your duty as an executor to safeguard the estate’s belongings.

First things first, you’ll need to insure the property in the name of the estate, something like “The Executors of ‘Dearly Departed’s Name’.” It’s a bit formal, but it’s how the insurance companies roll.

Next, you might have to jump through a few hoops if the property is going to be unoccupied for a while. Some insurers will require you to conduct regular inspections, maybe once a week or once a month, just to make sure everything’s shipshape. They might also ask you to beef up security with fancy locks or alarms to keep any unwanted visitors at bay.

Speaking of visitors, it’s a good idea to let the neighbours know that the property is vacant. They can be your extra set of eyes and ears, keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity while you’re busy dealing with the legal stuff.

Now, regarding content cover, you’ll want to ensure it’s up to snuff. Some policies might not cover high-value items like art or jewellery, so you’ll need to double-check and maybe adjust the coverage if needed.

And finally, once the estate has been distributed and the property has a new owner, they’ll need to either transfer the existing policy into their name or cancel it and get a fresh one. If the place is going to be empty for a while, they’ll need to look into unoccupied property insurance. But if they’re moving in themselves, a standard home insurance policy will do the trick. And if they’re planning on renting it out, well, that’s a whole other ball game with landlord insurance and tax considerations.


Can Property Saviour Help?

We will buy your house for cash to save you the trouble of dealing with an estate agent.  With no fees to pay and a free house clearance, you can move on to the next chapter of your life.

If you sell to us, we will also re-imburse your cost of insurance as well. With so many five-star reviews, what’s not to like?

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