When someone dies any private property (or shares in a private property) that (s)he owned will become a part of his or her estate. This estate will be distributed according to the law either by the executor (someone named in the deceased s will) or administrator (someone appointed by law in the event that no will was left). Depending on the type of property held and the instructions left in the will, there are many ways in which an individual could inherit property and many rights and responsibilities that come along with such an inheritance.
Ways of Inheriting Property
There are three main ways in which private property can be inherited. The first is if the deceased and the inheritor were living together in a property held as a joint tenancy . Upon the death, the surviving member of this agreement inherits the entire property automatically. The second common way of inheriting property is if the property was owned as a tenancy in common , then the inheritor will be awarded the deceased s share in the property either as stipulated in the deceased s will or according to the laws of intestacy/succession (in the event that no will exists). Finally, if the deceased owned the property outright then it will be inherited according to the deceased s will or the laws of intestacy/succession (again if no will exists).
Debts and Inherited Property
Property that is inherited will usually not be released to the inheritor until all debts have been cleared from the deceased s estate. However, it may be that outstanding debts exist and the property must be sold in order to make up these debts. If such is the case, the inheritor should be informed of these developments and should be kept informed about the process by the executor or administrator of the will. Generally if the property was held as a joint tenancy then all other avenues of paying debts will be explored before the idea of selling the property must be raised, but if it is impossible to pay these debts otherwise then selling may be the only option. Working with a solicitor will help make all details clear about specific cases.
Uses of an Inherited Property
Sometimes the properties inherited after a death are already inhabited by tenants. Whether or not this arrangement will continue is up to the new owner. However, if it does continue then the new owner becomes the landlord and must shoulder all of the responsibilities of this position as stipulated by the law. Regardless of whether the new owner is hoping to sell the property, inhabit the property him/herself or continue renting the property to others, a solicitor should be consulted to ensure that all laws are followed regarding these transactions. If a new owner does intend to move into the property, (s)he should consult a solicitor regarding the existence of any tenants, registering the property in his/her name, nominating the property as his/her main home with the Tax Office, taking on mortgage payments, paying any applicable taxes and anything else related to his/her specific situation.
Inheriting property is not usually a straightforward affair. There are many ways of inheriting property, and many more issues that must be dealt with such as taxes on the property, the property being used to pay off debts, relationships with existing tenants living in the property, tax issues surrounding the property becoming the owner s main home, the new owner taking over the mortgage on the property and much more. If possible, the guidance of a solicitor should always be sought in case of private property inheritance.