Once the mourning period for a loved one has passed and the grief has quieted down, it is important to finalize important legal duties such as transferring property ownership. This means getting any property the deceased owned to change hands and reflect you as the new owner. This process is vital as it allows you to have the legal mandate to sell, subdivide, to develop or to gift it to other people. Below, find out what you should expect from this process.
The deceased's will
If the deceased has left a will, the court will have to honour the wishes of the deceased as long as they are in line with the Succession Act. The deceased's solicitor will provide the deceased's last wishes and the court will evaluate them. If you are named in the will as the heir, the transfer process will be smooth. However, if there is no will and there is a contest as to who should inherit the property, a probate process will be initiated by your solicitor.
If the deceased left no will and there is a contest as to who should inherit the property or benefit from it, a probate process is carried out by the court. During this process, the court will examine who has a legal right to the property, either by being a wife, husband, former wife/husband, child, direct dependant or otherwise.
Letters of administration
A letter of administration is a legal document that grants you the mandate to handle the deceased's estate. It doesn't necessarily mean you own the property they have left behind; it simply puts you in control of deciding what should happen to it. Getting the letters of administration is a crucial step in the property transfer process where the deceased had no will. These letters are granted by the court after establishing that you are the rightful next of kin and that there no other people contesting you being granted the mandate. In some cases, where there are several adults that qualify to be next of kin, the letters of administration can be granted to more than one person.
Distribution of wealth
Once you have the letters of administration, you will be in a position to decide the distribution of the deceased's estate. If you are the uncontested heir, with no other dependants or rightful heirs, your conveyancing solicitor will initiate the process to transfer the property title from the deceased's name to yours. If there are other dependants, you may have the property transferred jointly to you and them as well.
As you can see, inheritance matters can get complicated at times. This is why it's important to get a conveyancing solicitor to advise you on what to expect, especially in regards to the outlook of your particular case.