Changing a name on a house deed

June 17, 2020

Are you looking to change the name on a house deed due to the death of the previous owner?

This article will answer some of the most pressing questions that arise from this scenario.

Different ownership relationships will necessitate different steps in the name-changing process. In all cases, changing the name on a house deed entails a small cost, but the amount varies depending on the value of the property. 

Often the will of the deceased will specify the person who will deal with their estate, but if there is no will, the next-of-kin becomes the deceased’s personal representative. 

The named beneficiary in the will obtains probate or, if there is no will, the next-of-kin will receive a letter of administration. These allow for the transfer of ownership of the property into a new name. 

Below are some of the most common questions in the UK regarding changing the name on a house deed following the death of an owner:

Do I need a solicitor to change the name on a deed?

While solicitors are not necessary to change the name on a house deed in the UK, many people will hire one for their expertise. However, you will require a different type of qualified lawyer, namely a notary. 

For example, the new property deed will have to be notarized before it can be submitted to the Land Registry

Notaries are certified to act as official, legal witnesses in the signing of documents. They will place a seal on your document and witness the signing. The seal indicates that your signature is official. 

To find a notary in your location click here.

How much does it cost to change the name on the deed of a house?

When the ownership of a house is transferred from one person to another, there is always a small cost involved but depending on the situation, some property transfers may involve stamp duty tax in addition to the other small fees. For people who are transferring property that’s worth more than £125,000, stamp duty land tax must be paid to transfer the ownership of the property. However, for people whose homes are worth less than £125,000, stamp duty land tax is not usually charged.

Besides the possibility of a tax payment in certain cases, in all situations there are some fees to be paid in order to successfully complete the transfer of ownership including the following:

  • A minimum Land Registry fee of £40 must be paid. This amount has to be paid regardless of whether or not you complete the Land Registry forms yourself. The cost may be slightly higher than £40 depending on the exact situation.
  • For people who are becoming joint owners of more than one property, another Land Registry fee of up to £150 has to be paid as well.
  • Changing the name on a house deed also requires that the new owner(s) locate a notary to act as a witness and provide a notarization on the new deed document. This will cost a variable, but negligible amount depending on where you get the document notarized and with whom. 
  • After notarization, there may also be a small fee required to register the deed officially with the Land Register.

How do I change the name on a deed after a death?

The process of changing the name on a house deed in the UK depends on whether or not the property was owned by one or more individuals. In either case, the process of changing the name on a deed after death is relatively straightforward. To determine what process to follow to change the name after death, you must first identify whether the property was under sole ownership, joint tenant ownership, or tenants in common. 

Often property is owned jointly by more than one person and after death, the name of the deceased must be removed from the deed. The transfer process is a little more complicated when the property is listed under the names of two spouses, but when this happens removal of the spouse’s name from the deed will depend on the type of joint ownership they had on the property.

There are two types of joint ownership that could affect the transfer of property after the death of a spouse:

●  Joint Tenants

●  Tenants in Common

If the property deeds have not already been registered with the HM Land Registry, a name change to the deed will trigger the need for a first registration. Making an application for the first registration of the property along with a transfer of ownership can happen simultaneously. If a property title has not been registered with the Land Registry and the death of one of the co-owners does not trigger the need for an initial registration, the death certificate can merely be placed at the registry with the deeds for record-keeping purposes.

Form TR1 is a document that’s regularly used in property conveyances to create a transfer deed for use between buyers and sellers (in situations where money is being transferred) and between previous property owners and new owners (in situations where no money is being transferred). This document is used to register a property for the first time and also to transfer a property into one or more registered titles. An exception is the transferra of only part of a registered title. In this case, Form TP1 should be used in place of Form TR1. 

Sole Owner:

The process of changing the name on a deed after a death when the owner of a property was the sole owner can be completed in just a few steps. When a sole owner dies, the property will be transferred to either: 

  • A beneficiary (a person who is inheriting the property) or 
  • A third party (e.g. a person who is buying the property)

In a situation in which the sole owner’s property is transferred to a beneficiary or the personal representative of the sole owner, the personal representative can transfer the property to the beneficiaries by simply filling out the whole of registered title: Assent AS1 form and submitting the required documents that go with the form (including a copy of the official death certificate of the deceased owner) to the Land Registry. If the representative chooses to sell the property or plans to pass it on to someone else (this is the process required if the deceased did not leave behind a will), the personal representative will fill out the Registered titles: whole transfer TR1 form to transfer ownership correctly.

Joint Tenants

When a property is under the ownership of spouses as joint tenants, neither spouse owns a specific part of the property, so when one owner dies, the surviving owner automatically inherits the entirety of the property regardless of who was listed in the will as beneficiary (a person who is inheriting the property according to the deceased person’s will or next-of-kin). 

  • If the surviving spouse wishes to remove the deceased spouse’s name from the property so that the property is listed under the sole name of the surviving owner, an official death certificate must be sent to the Land Registry. 
  • The surviving owner must fill-in form DJP. The Land Registry will then update the property title to reflect only the name of the surviving owner as the sole owner of the property.
  • If there is a mortgage on the property, permission from the lender may be necessary in order to remove the name of one of the owners. Mortgage providers will assess the financial ability of the surviving spouse to determine their ability to make payments. 
  • Probate is not usually necessary unless the deceased’s estate requires it.

If a property deed has not been registered, it is possible to send a death certificate to the Land Registry, but it would be better to first register the title using Form TR1. Once the surviving spouse completes this process, the property will be registered solely under the name of the surviving owner.

Tenants in Common

For property that is jointly owned by spouses as tenants in common, a different process must be completed for transfer of ownership. When spouses or two unmarried individuals own property as tenants in common, each spouse owns a particular share of the property (often 50% for each spouse, although the property can be divided into other proportions as well). The deceased’s property share is dealt with according to either their will or, if there is no will, the Rules of Intestacy. According to the Rules of Intestacy, when someone dies with no surviving civil partner or spouse but with surviving descendants, the entirety of their estate passes to each of the descendants in equal shares.

To remove your spouse’s name from a deed following their death as tenants in common, the surviving owner of the property has authority over the transfer. There is no need to show the Grant of Representation to the Land Registry. Rather, the surviving joint owner must give the Land Registry instructions regarding their wish to remove the deceased’s name from the deed.

Property that was purchased using a mortgage may require the permission of the lender to remove the deceased’s owner’s name from the property. 

When there are no surviving owners, the transfer process happens as a natural outgrowth of the probate process. A beneficiary can have the property transferred into his or her name or into the name of the deceased’s personal representative using Form AS1 and Form AP1. 

Should I remove a deceased person from a deed?

Removing a deceased person’s name from a house deed is not required by law in the UK, but it’s highly recommended. While not necessary, removing the name of a deceased person from a house deed keeps the Land Register up-to-date and provides an accurate portrayal of ownership. And it will also make it easier to sell the property in the future. Even if you don’t plan on selling the property anytime soon, keeping the house deed up-to-date ensures that future property-related transactions and dealings are kept clean and neat.

After the death of a property owner, a beneficiary will either obtain “probate” or next-of-kin will receive “letters of administration”. Beneficiaries or next-of-kin can then legally act as personal representatives for the deceased, meaning that they have the power and ability to then transfer ownership of the property and change the name on the deed if they so choose. They also have the power to sell the property. So the decision to remove a deceased person’s name from a deed will depend on a number of factors, but legally, the removal of a deceased person’s name from a deed will make all future ownership transfers much easier. 

How Do I Change My Name?


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