If you are dealing with the estate of someone who has died, you may need to obtain a Grant of Probate or, if they did not leave a Will, a Grant of Letters of Administration. This is the document that gives legal authority to the deceased’s personal representatives so that they can finalise their affairs.
In some instances, where the estate is small, it may be possible to wind up an estate without probate, but if the deceased held bank accounts on the Isle of Man it is probable that the bank in question will ask to see a grant of probate before they will close the account.
If the deceased owned a property, then a grant will be essential if the property is to be sold.
What happens to a property when someone dies
When someone dies and leaves a property in their estate, it may need to be sold or transferred.
If the property was jointly owned, then what happens next depends on the type of joint ownership.
If a property is held by more than one person as joint tenants, then if one of them dies the property automatically becomes wholly owned by the other joint tenant or tenants. A copy of the death certificate can be sent to the Land Registry who will update their records.
This means that property that is owned as joint tenants cannot be left to anyone else in a Will.
A grant of probate is not necessary as ownership by the remaining joint tenant or tenants is automatic, although it may still be required to deal with the other assets in the estate.
Tenants in common
If property is held jointly by the owners as tenants in common, then it will pass under the terms of the Will of the person who has died or, if they did not leave a Will, in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy.
For more information about who will inherit in this case, see our article What are the consequences of dying without a Will?
In this case, a grant will generally be necessary to deal with the transfer or sale of the property as it will form part of their estate and will usually mean that the value of the estate is high enough that probate or letters of administration are needed. Only small estates, usually valued at less than £5,000, will not need a grant for their administration.
Selling a property after someone dies
If the property will form part of someone’s estate after they die and it needs to be sold, a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration will be needed.
If you are responsible for the winding up of the estate, you will need to apply to the Isle of Man Probate Office for the grant. You can go ahead and put the property on the market in the meantime, but you should make sure that the estate agent and potential buyers know that you will not be able to complete the sale until the grant has been issued. Provided the forms are completed correctly and the right fee is included, you can expect to receive a grant of probate in around four weeks.
Probate granted in another jurisdiction cannot be used to deal with Isle of Man assets.
Dealing with probate on the Isle of Man
If you have been given the task of administering an estate after someone’s death and you need assistance with obtaining a Grant of Probate or selling a property, we will be happy to help.
We have experience across all types of estate administration, including complex and high-value estates. We also have one of the largest and most experienced property teams on the Isle of Man.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert probate lawyers or property lawyers contact us today.