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Executors: make sure probate property is still insured

Being the executor for someone’s estate after they die carries many responsibilities – not least, making sure that any unoccupied property is effectively insured.

Obtaining probate can sometimes take time and insuring the property can easily be overlooked. However, it is vitally important to ensure that the assets of the estate – and the property is normally the most valuable of these – are properly protected until they can be distributed to beneficiaries.

Failure to adequately insure a property can mean that you, as the executor, could be held personally responsible if something happens such as a break-in, a burst pipe or a fire, which results in losses to the estate.

What first?

As executor you are responsible for dealing with anything and everything owned by the deceased at the date of death.

When the deceased has left a house that is now empty, you need to:

  • Contact the insurers and let them know the owner has died. Many policies became void when a property is left unoccupied for a certain period of time so check what the position is;
  • Investigate whether the current insurer will continue to cover the property and by how much the premiums will rise;
  • Take a look at other insurance companies too. Ideally, you want one which has experience of probate properties;
  • Check what policy restrictions there are if the property remains unoccupied. Some insurers limit cover to damage caused by fire, lightning, aircraft and explosion. This means that a burglary, for example, would not be covered;
  • Find out, if comprehensive cover is provided, whether there are any conditions. Some insurers require regular inspections of the property in exchange for comprehensive cover on an empty property. Failure to do this could mean a claim being rejected;
  • Make sure any amended or new policy is in the name of the executors.

Bricks and mortar

When someone dies the key role of an executor is to ensure the assets in the estate are well cared for and that includes any empty property.

It is important to secure the building.  You should consider changing the locks or installing a burglar alarm to prevent break-ins, removing valuable items and making sure it is inspected regularly.

You should arrange a postal redirection but also ensure you collect post so it doesn’t build up on the doormat – a clear sign the property is empty – and take practical steps like making sure the heating is set to come on with a timer over the winter months.

These simple steps can ease your role as an Executor and ensure that you maximise the assets in the estate.

For more information, please see our Legal Guides:

For help and information about probate issues, please contact any member of Wards Solicitors’ Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity Team

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