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What To Do When Your Parent Or a Close Family Relative Dies?

Property Saviour » Inherited Property » What To Do When Your Parent Or a Close Family Relative Dies?

Our guide covers practical steps you need to take when a parent or a family relative has just passed away.  This article covers rules in England only and has been updated for 2024.

Government websites offer plenty of free advice on what to do.  You can also read our probate guides on what to do.

Here at Property Saviour, we help Executors and beneficiaries deal with the practicalities of managing a deceased estate’s affairs.  We know that bereavement can be an incredibly stressful and overwhelming time. 

That’s why we have put together this guide, covering almost all the information you need over the first few weeks and months.

Please feel free to share this guide with your friends or families who are going through this difficult period.  Knowing what to do and when can help make dealing with bereavement a little bit easier.

Table of Contents

What to do when someone dies?

It is terrible news.  Firstly, we are very sorry to hear of your loss.  What you will need to do is call your parent’s GP surgery, as they will be able to guide you on how to obtain a death certificate. 

If you know who the Executor is, then you will need to inform them.

Installing a CCTV system that gives you real time alerts on your phone can help you keep an eye on your parents' home if you live away.

Secure their home and personal possessions

If you do not live nearby, get a friend or relative to visit their home as soon as practically possible to ensure that all valuables are out of sight, cancelling paper or milk deliveries and confirming that all windows and doors are locked.

There is a detailed guide on empty property maintenance, which covers steps you need to take to deter thieves, vandals, and squatters from moving into your empty inherited property.

Personal possessions should be left within the home – but perhaps hidden away from preying eyes so they are not so obvious to be taken away.  You will need to value personal possessions for inheritance tax purposes.  In our guide, we’ve covered inheritance tax, capital gains tax, income tax, and stamp duty on inherited property in much more detail.

Protect yours and your parents' interests: a life insurance policy can pay off outstanding mortgage and help pay towards funeral costs and other bills.

Try and find a copy of life insurance policy and building insurance policy.

A house that is empty for more than 28 days will not be insured.  You will need to buy full-price empty house insurance, which can be very expensive compared with traditional occupied insurance. 

It is worth noting that insurers can refuse to renew your policy if it has been unoccupied for 12 months or longer.  This is because an empty property cover is deemed temporary for a very short period of 2 or 3 months.  Empty properties are a target for thieves, vandalism and potentially squatters moving in.

Did you know?  To sell inherited property to a cash buyer like us means that a sale can be concluded within 10 days or quicker, and we will insure your empty property.  Call us now on 0113 320 6700 or enquire with us now.

What to do when a friend's parent dies
Adopt their furry friends or ask RSPCA to take them away if you are unable to look after them.

What about pets?

If the deceased left any pets, then perhaps a friend or family member can adopt them.  If this is not possible, you will need to contact your local animal rescue charities who can help.

Establish if the deceased left any digital assets

These days it is common for people to leave behind a digital legacy which can include items of financial, sentimental, or social value such as:

All digital assets must be handed over to the Executor who maybe able to access them using the deceased’s phone.

Your parents may have left you a small fortune in form of an online business or digital currencies. Careful check their computer, diary and USB sticks.

What to do when a parent dies - a checklist

This is a checklist that provides useful tasks you need to undertake within the first few days:

If your parent died in hospital, they can provide you with a copy. If your parent or relative died at home, the GP’s practice should be able to assist.  If they were involved in an accident, the emergency services are your first port of call.

Death must be registered within five days unless referred to a coroner.  You will need to find a registry office closest to your parent’s home.  They will ask you for:

  1. Full name, including any maiden names or previous names if they changed their name by deed poll
  2. Date and place of birth
  3. Date and place of birth
  4. Their occupation
  5. Permanent address.
You will need several copies of the death certificate to send them off to various companies.  These will be useful when applying for a Grant of Probate.

If the deceased held a life insurance policy, then this could potentially help pay off any outstanding mortgage balance or pay towards their funeral.

If there is a funeral plan, then it makes arranging the funeral a little bit easier.  It is also worth referring to the Will to understand what sort of funeral they wanted.

If there is no paid funeral plan in place, then you will need to pay for a funeral and claim the costs from the deceased’s estate.  The funeral can be arranged via a funeral director who will then provide you with a certificate for the cremation or burial.

If you do not have the funds to pay for the funeral, check if your parent or relative had a bank account.  The bank should be able to pay deposit the funeral and the balance of the invoice.  Please note it is worth checking with them first.

You can use a digital service called Tell Us Once.  This will inform benefit agency and other government departments of death.  You will need to provide the following information:

  1. Driving Licence number
  2. Passport number
  3. National Insurance number.

There is a new service called LifeLedger, a free to use service that informs businesses such as banks, building societies, insurance and utility companies of death of your loved one.  You will only need to do this once and it saves a lot of time and stress.

Power of Attorney allowed you to manage your parent or loved one’s affairs during their lifetime.  You can only use LPA to power for funeral expenses. 

You must apply for a Grant of Probate or a Letter of Administration.

what to do when a parent dies suddenly
As difficult as it may be you need to locate the Will within their home. Carefully look for original title deeds if property is unregistered and don't instruct house clearance.

What to do when a parent dies, and you are the Executor?

First, you need to establish that you are a rightful heir to the estate of the deceased.  Even if your name is mentioned in the Will as someone who has inherited the property, you will still need to apply for a

Grant of Probate to allow you to legally sell your inherited property.  A Grant of Probate will only be issued to the Executor of the estate.

If you are a beneficiary, then you are someone who has been issued a share of proceeds from the sale of the property.  This is much more simply an affair than being an Executor.  In some cases, a solicitor can act as an Executor.

We cover how to apply for a Grant of Probate in our easy-to-follow guide.

Should there be more than one Executor on the Will, the probate application form and guidance notes will explain in detail what to do.

What to do when someone dies and there is no Will?

If no Will was left, a relative or close friend can still apply to the probate registry office. However, in this case, they will apply for a Letter of Administration.

If this is granted, they will be referred to as ‘Administrators’ and have the same authority as an Executor.  Check with the National Wills Register to see if a copy of Will was registered.

what to do when a parent dies checklist
If surviving spouse wishes to live in their property, they can but will need to apply to Land Registry to have name of deceased spouse removed from the title.

What to do when your mother dies but my father is still alive?

If a loved one has died and there is a surviving spouse or partner, the property will be automatically transferred into their name if they are joint owners on the title deeds. Referring to the Land Registry Title Register will identify the owners. 

In this case, where there is one surviving partner, the property can be sold without the Grant of Probate.

If the property was owned by the last surviving spouse or the sole possessor who has passed away, then you will need to apply for a Grant of Probate.

We will buy your inherited property, allowing you to move on. Just fill in our enquiry form to receive your free cash offer.

What happens to a house with a mortgage when the owner dies?

You will need to contact the mortgage lender and inform them of the death. Some lenders will insist that you make payments towards the interest portion of the mortgage while others will give you 2 or 3 months to sell the inherited property.

It is worth noting that if you do not keep up with the mortgage payments then the lender could start repossession proceedings against the deceased, and you will become liable to a very hefty bill or worse lose the property altogether.

If you have inherited a house with a mortgage and intend to sell it then you can apply for a break from paying mortgage for a couple of months.

What about Banks and Building Societies?

You can approach banks and building societies and request them to stop any transactions on the deceased’s accounts. 

You will need to ask them to provide you with account balances, outstanding debts if there were loans or overdrafts and any interest paid on saving accounts or current account balances for the tax year.  This will be needed for your inheritance tax calculation.

If you do not believe you have enough copies of the death certificate, you can order more online.

What about deceased’s Passport and Driving Licence?

You will need to return these to the passport office and DVLA respectively.

How to sell an inherited property?
Before you surrender the passport and driving licence of your late mum or dad, you may need them for ID/probate purposes. Check with probate office.

Is there any help for the bereaved surviving spouse?

If the deceased has a husband, wife or civil partner, they may be entitled to a bereavement allowance by UK government.  This must be claimed within 3 months of their passing.

Dealing with Council tax and utility firms 

When you are trying to sell your inherited property there are several out-of-pocket expenses you will incur.  These will need to be paid regularly typically monthly via Direct Debit:

If you no longer require a Sky or Virgin TV subscription, a TV licence, broadband or landline phone, now might be a good time to serve notice and cancel the services.

council tax on empty inherited property
Ruthless local councils can charge as much as 200% of normal council tax for an empty inherited properties and issue court proceedings if not paid.

How to sell an inherited property?

Before you can sell an inherited property and distribute inheritance amongst beneficiaries, there are several steps you need to take:

  1. Getting a Probate Valuation for the deceased’s estate
    You will need to value all of the deceased’s estate, including their personal possessions, property, savings, shares, premium bonds, and digital assets.  We’ve put together a detailed guide on how to get a probate valuation.
  2. Pay any inheritance tax due within six months
    Inheritance tax applies if the deceased’s estate is worth £325,000 or more.  If it is not paid on time, then late payment fees and interest will be charged.
  3. Sell assets, including property
    Once you have obtained a Grant of Probate or a Letter of Administration then you can start to sell a property, sell any shares, withdraw savings, premium bonds or any other personal possessions.

    You need to be mindful that the longer it takes for the affairs of the estate to be wound up, the higher the potential probate bill will be.  Selling the property quickly to a genuine cash buyer like Property Saviour might be sensible to save the anxiety, stress and uncertainty of dealing with non-committed buyers.

  4. Who is responsible for the deceased’s unpaid debts?
    If your parent or loved one lives in a care home, it is worth checking if there are any outstanding fees.

    When someone dies, their estate becomes responsible for any debts which must be paid before beneficiaries get their inheritance.

  5. Distribute the inheritance
    Once debts have been settled, you can distribute the inheritance amongst the beneficiaries as per the Will.  If there is no Will then Intestacy Rules will apply.
sell inherited house
Selling an inherited house for cash means you'll be able to settle probate bills, pay off mortgage, tax and distribute inheritance to beneficiaries.

Can you sell inherited property yourself?

Property Saviour can offer you a fair market value for your property, saving you time, hassle of dealing with estate agents and their endless viewings.  There’s only one very discreet viewing. 

With an estate agent, they will over-value your property and then reduce the price until a buyer is found.  You will soon become fed up with their constant excuses of tough market condition and buyer’s surveyor finding faults that now necessitates a price reduction.

Even if you agree, there will be a frustrating wait to see if the mortgage offer will come through.  If your potential buyer has seen a brand new development, he/she might change their mind after months of agony because it only needs 5% deposit, with a help-to-buy scheme, than a property that might need a little TLC.

We are decisive.  We will offer on your property usually within 48 hours.  If you accept, we will then instruct a valuation and instruct solicitors.  You can sell your property in its current condition, and there’s no need to pay for an expensive house clearance.

Not all “We Buy Any House Companies” are genuine cash buyers because the industry is unregulated by the UK government.  We’ve covered ‘We Buy Any House Companies scams’ on our website to expose them.

Our sellers describe us as honest, trustworthy, and approachable in their reviews of our services.  Unlike our competitors, we do not pay actors.  Our reviews are left by real people just like you, and sellers have kindly given us their permission to share their case studies.  We hope you will leave us a positive review, too!

Our offer is what you will receive.  There are never any deductions, valuation fees or hidden fees.  We also pay £1,500 towards your legal fees.  It means beneficiaries can spend their inheritance after months of waiting, as their loved one would have intended. 

Make an enquiry today, and let’s discuss when you’d like the sale to be completed. It can be as little as 10 days or quicker.

Sell with certainty & speed

auction hammer

Property Saviour Price Promise

  • The price we’ll offer is the price that you will receive with no hidden deductions.
  • Be careful with ‘cash buyers’ who require a valuation needed for a mortgage or bridging loan.
  • These valuations or surveys result in delays and price reductions later on.
  • We are cash buyers.  There are no surveys.
  • We always provide proof of funds with every formal offer issued.

We'll Pay £1,500 Towards Your Legal Fees

  • No long exclusivity agreement to sign because we are the buyers.
  • You are welcome to use your own solicitor. 
  • If you don’t have one, we can ask our solicitors for recommendations.
  • We share our solicitor’s details and issue a Memorandum of Sale. 

Sell With Certainty & Speed

  • Our approach is transparent and ethical, which is why sellers trust us.
  • 100% Discretion guaranteed. 
  • If you have another buyer, you can put us in a contracts race to see who completes first.
  • Complete in 10 days or at a timescale that works for you.  You are in control.
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