By acting as an Executor you take on a key responsibility to protect the estate of the deceased. In many cases the substantial asset of the deceased is the former family home so you must act quickly to protect the asset.
What are the steps you should take if the property is unoccupied?
- You should immediately ensure that the property is secure such as all windows and doors are locked and shut. You may wish to consider changing the locks to the house.
- Ensure that the property has suitable buildings and contents insurance, either by notifying the home insurance company or taking out specialist insurance. Many standard house insurance polices do not allow a property to be unoccupied for more 30 days. It might be appropriate either to put the policy in the name of the estate or to note that the estate has an interest in the property. Ask your solicitor for advice.
- If there are particularly valuable items such as paintings and jewellery you may consider removing them with the consent of all Executors but please ensure that appropriate insurance is in place wherever they are held.
- Take readings for all utilities and notify the appropriate providers. Some local councils do not levy Council Tax on unoccupied properties.
- Attend to practical matters such as clearing out the fridge, watering plants, dealing with the post.
- Maintain the property and garden as far as possible, so for example a leak in the roof should be fixed, but you should not seek to improve the property. Ask your solicitor for advice.
- Arrange for the property to be valued, either by local estate agents or by a chartered surveyor if appropriate. As Executor you should also consider if the property has development potential. Your solicitor can guide you as to what is required.
- If the property is to be sold, take advice from your solicitor as to when to place the market for sale.
Any reasonable costs associated with the above can be reclaimed from the estate.
As you can see there are many practical and legal tasks required from you as an Executor. If you are an Executor and feel you need some help please call us, we work supporting many Executors either to administer the full estate on their behalf or on an ad-hoc basis.
We have a team of probate solicitors based in our offices in Reading, who can help. For further information please call us on 0118 958 9711.
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Vanessa Ruparel offers a fixed fee initial meeting of one hour to discuss your personal circumstances, your options and your next steps, at a cost of £95 (inc VAT).
Vanessa will meet you in our Reading Berkshire office, alternatively meetings can occur by telephone. If you would like to meet with Vanessa please telephone the office so that an appointment can be arranged.
Vanessa is a Solicitor specialising in Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and the administration of estates.