Dealing with a Property When Someone has Died

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Dealing with a Property When Someone has Died

When a homeowner dies leaving a vacant property, there are a number of important tasks that need to be addressed – some of which are very urgent and must be dealt with legally. 

Losing a loved one is undoubtedly one of life’s most challenging moments. The practical matters that follow can feel overwhelming, especially when it comes to handling important matters such as their property. It can stir up a lot of emotions. 

A home is often someone’s biggest asset, so it is vital to make sure that any risks are reduced and ensure that the property is protected. In this blog, our Head of Wills & Probate, Jessica Flaherty, explains the practical steps you need to take when managing the property affairs of someone who has died and left an empty home behind. 

Who is Responsible? 

If the person who passed away had a Will, then managing the property (along with many other duties) will be the responsibility of the named executor. They are, of course, able to ask for help from other family members and often the job is shared. 

If there was not a Will in place, then responsibility will be given to the person that the state feels appropriate. 

When there is a surviving partner or family living in the property, that legally own it, then these tasks will not be applicable. 

Taking Care of a Vacant Property 


  • Making the Property safe and secure 

One of the first tasks is to make sure that the home is secured, that windows and doors are thoroughly locked and any alarm systems are set, if the property has them. You might need to consider adding some extra security or changing the locks. 

  • Contact Insurance Company 

This is one of the most important tasks, as a home’s buildings and contents insurance will become invalid if the property is vacant without the insurance company being notified. Call them urgently and ensure that records are updated to state that the property is empty, but is being monitored. 

  • Regularly Check In 

It is sensible to perform regular checks on the home to make sure security hasn’t been breached or that there are no issues to address, such as a leak or damage. If you do not live locally or will have trouble making regular visits, then speak to a neighbour or someone trustworthy that lives nearby to see if they can keep an eye on the home for you. 

  • Make Arrangements for Pets 

If your loved one had pets, then make sure they are removed from the property and taken care of. 

  • Consider Heating and Water 

It is sensible to shut off heating and hot water if the weather is warm, to avoid racking up utility bills for supplies that aren’t being used. However, if the property is empty during the Winter months, it is best to leave a small amount of heat and hot water running through to avoid any issues and keep the property in good condition. 

  • Clear Out Perishables 

To keep the property smelling fresh, clear out the fridge, any perishable foods from the cupboards, empty bins and bin any fruit or flowers from around the house. 

  • Inform Utilities 

There is likely to be a number of different companies and providers that will need informing of the death. Some of these will include; the mortgage provider, the local council, insurance companies, water, gas and electric providers, TV licence, phone, TV and broadband providers. You are likely to need a copy of the death certificate in order to break any contracts and end services. It is a good idea to get additional copies of a death certificate to help with all the administration. It is also worth cancelling any cleaning or gardening services, if you know that they are regularly provided. 

  • Transferring Ownership or Selling the Property 

Depending on the circumstances and the owner’s Will, you will need to put the house on the market for sale or transfer the ownership of the property to another person. Speak to a Solicitor who specialises in Residential Property transactions for the next steps. You will need Grant of Probate to complete any transactions. 

  • Clear Property 

This task can be difficult – it is never easy to sort through a loved ones possessions, and its even harder to throw things away. Tackle this with the support of friends or family members so you are not alone and can have help making tough decisions. Be sure to set aside any special items that are named in the Will to be given to certain family members. Once valuables and personal items are taken care of, there are specialist clearance companies if you need help getting rid of furniture and other items. 

  • Re-Direct Mail 

To avoid mail building up, it is a good idea to put a redirection in place. If the deceased doesn’t seem to receive much mail and you have the time, then contact any companies as and when the post comes through to inform them to update their records. 

  • General Maintenance 

The probate process can take some time and if the property is going on to be sold, then there could be a long period of time where the home sits empty. During this time the executor or appointed individual will be responsible for it. Be sure to tackle tasks such as mowing the lawn, emptying gutters and taking care of any repairs or issues during this time. This will ensure that the home stays presentable for viewers, holds its value and remains safe and secure. 


Dealing with a loved one’s property after they have died requires patience, diligence and compassion. By understanding your duties as an executor and following the practical steps in this blog, you can navigate this challenging process and ensure that the wishes of your loved one are honoured. 


Compassionate Probate Services 

At Bell Lamb & Joynson, our Wills & Probate team have been helping people in the North West with their legal needs for over 200 years. Our experts are friendly, professional and sympathetic, offering a range of services to help you through the complex probate process. 

Whether you need a one-off advice meeting to ask some questions, need a full estate administration from start to finish, or somewhere in between. 

We are by your side to take the pressure off during difficult times where you need to support your family. 

To speak to someone about probate, Wills or managing the affairs of someone who has passed away, then please contact our specialist Wills & Probate team on 03444 124348, email or speak to our live chat assistant online. 

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