What happens to my house if I die?

Your home is probably the most valuable asset you own, so it's important that you have a say over what happens to it when you die. Here's everything you need to know about including property in your will.

Buying a home is a huge financial commitment. Most people in the UK take between 25 and 35 years to pay off their mortgage. But a lot can happen in that time, so it's important to make sure you're prepared for the worst by writing a will.

What happens to your mortgage when you die?

When you write a will using our online will writing service, you can choose who you want to inherit your residuary estate. Any property that’s solely owned or owned as tenants in common at the time of your death will make up part of this.

If you've paid off the mortgage, your beneficiaries will inherit your property and be able to choose what to do with it. But if you haven't paid off the mortgage, they'll inherit the property – usually along with all of its debt.

Here, we'll explore exactly what this means depending on how you own your property:

If you're the sole owner of your home…

If your beneficiaries would like to take on the mortgage themselves, they'll have to get a mortgage assessment to check they can afford the monthly repayments.

If a new mortgage application can't be approved, or if your beneficiaries don't want to keep up the payments, then the property can be sold. Any proceeds can then be used to repay the debt.

If you're a joint owner…

If you have a joint mortgage with your partner, they'll usually have to take on the property and mortgage as a sole owner if you die first. Similarly, you'll be responsible for paying the mortgage if they die before you.

The surviving partner will need to apply for a new mortgage to make sure they can keep up with the payments. If you can't get a new mortgage, you may have to sell your property. Many people protect themselves from this by taking out a life insurance policy that’s specifically designed to pay off the mortgage.

What happens to your property if you've paid off the mortgage?

Any property that you own as tenants in common or as a sole proprietor is included in your residuary estate. Any property that you own as a joint tenant automatically passes to the other joint tenant (this is dealt with outside of your will).

Our online will writing service doesn't allow you to leave property as a specific gift, as there can be additional consequences which require specialist advice. Instead, any property that you own as tenants in common or as a sole proprietor will make up part of your residuary estate.

If you do want to leave property as a specific gift, you may be better off using our telephone service. Simply call our will experts on 020 3695 2090 and we’ll help find the right solution for you.

How to leave property in your will

Our online will writing service makes it quick and easy to leave eligible property in your will. If you own your property as the sole owner or tenants in common, it will be combined with your bank accounts, savings and pensions as part of your residuary estate. It can then be divided between your beneficiaries in whichever way you choose. We’ll explain this in more detail below.

When adding property to your will, you'll be asked how you own the property. Here are the three different types of property ownership and what they mean:

  • Sole owner: this means you alone own 100% of the property.

  • Joint owner (tenants in common): this means you each own a percentage of the property. Your share forms part of your residuary estate.

  • Joint owner (joint tenants): this means you have equal rights to the whole property, so it automatically goes to the other person when you die. If you're the joint tenant of a property, it will only be included as part of your residuary estate if the joint owner dies before you, making you the sole owner.

If you're not sure how you own your property, you can find out on the Land Registry's website for a small fee. If you'd like to change the way you own your property, just follow the instructions on GOV.UK's website or call us on 020 3695 2090.

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