Often the most valuable asset of a deceased’s estate is their home and therefore the most central to the administration of the estate. Proof of ownership of the property needs to be established. The conventional way to prove ownership is through the title deeds.
In most cases it is the deceased person who will have title deeds for the property that she or he owned. These deeds might be at home, or held for safe keeping by a conveyancing solicitor, bank or safety deposit box.
If the property is mortgaged then the lender will may hold the deeds as security although increasingly banks are dematerialising ( meaning that they no longer hold the deeds ).
If the property is not registered – most properties are registered, the title deeds will consist of a collection of deeds and documents which include the deed of the land to the deceased. The Government has announced that it wants to have every property on the register by 2012.
If the property is registered and there have not been any alterations to the register after 13 October 2003 the title document will consist of a land certificate, or charge certificate if the land is mortgaged. If there have been alterations to the register after October 2003 the title will consist of a title information document.
If it appears that the original title deeds are lost there is no need to panic. If a Land or Charge certificate (part of the deeds) is lost an application can made to replace it, they will give the property a new title number, so that the lost certificate cannot be used for fraudulent purposes. A new title would be issued, essentially becoming the new title deeds for the property. Throughout, the property will remain registered in the name of the property owner. This is an inexpensive procedure.
If you need to find out what registered properties the person who has died owned or to see a copy of any register, Fridaysmove would be happy to help. We can conduct a search at the Land Registry for you. Although there a fee is payable it can be done for as little as £20.