When someone passes away, it can be an upsetting and stressful time. Organising funerals and sorting out assets at the same time can lead to confusion and important aspects being missed.
Probate is the term used when it comes to administering an estate after someone dies, this could be anything from property, money, shares and personal possessions. Probate insurance should be taken out by the beneficiary or beneficiaries as soon as possible to make sure everything is covered.
Wills and probate insurance looks after these assets while this is being administered. However, there are other crucial things to think about while this is happening. More often than not, the property of the deceased is the most valuable asset that has been left in a will and making sure the dwelling is insured during this time is essential.
Why Might Probate Impact Home Cover?
Home insurance is possessed by most homeowners, the deceased’s current policy provider needs to be notified of their passing. Providers will typically transfer the policy to the beneficiary’s name and allow them to take over all correspondence.
This isn’t the only thing an insurance provider needs to be made aware of, if the property is going to be left empty for a long period of time, they will need to know. Administering probate and wills insurance doesn’t cover an unoccupied property and neither do most typical home insurance policies.
Leaving The Property Empty
Time periods vary but it is common for 30 days or more of no one being in the property leading to an invalidated claim, should this need to be done. This doesn’t just mean a completely vacant property, even if you are in and out occasionally doing repair work or an estate agent is showing homebuyers around now and then, it is still classed as unoccupied as no one is actually living there.
You will be required to take out unoccupied property insurance on top of any home insurance policy. Without doing so, you may be refused a payout from a home insurance provider should a claim need to be made.
Not Locking Windows & Doors
It may seem like an obvious statement, you all windows and doors must be locked when leaving the property. If they aren’t and there is a theft in the property, home insurance may not cover this.
This includes all locks on windows, if they have them, and making use of all the locks on doors, including double locks. Make this clear to estate agents when they are showing people around the property as well and do so in writing so any issues that arise from their neglect can be resolved with proof of what you said.
Similarly, if there are any other security measures, such as CCTV or burglar alarms, make sure these are in working order and properly set. The deceased likely declared these when taking out their policy and their premium reflects these added security measures.
If they have a CCTV set-up with monitors within the property, make sure that this is not removed until completion of a sale, as they need to be fully working and should not be cleared out.
Who Has Keys?
Giving our spare keys to neighbours, friends and family is common but once someone has passed away, beneficiaries need to know where these all are and that they are accounted for.
This can be seen as a risk to insurance companies as the deceased may have known these people but they may be strangers to beneficiaries. Consider changing the locks to ensure that no one can access the property without permission.
Always alert the insurance company of any security changes, such as new locks, as they will need to make a note on the policy.
Keep The Heating On
This may seem like a waste of money if the property is vacant but in adverse winter weather, it’s crucial. Pipes can easily freeze if left cold for long periods and lead to them bursting and flooding the property.
Home insurance is there to cover events such as this, but policyholders are also responsible for taking ‘due care’ to prevent this from happening. Some insurance companies can use this small print to refuse a claim.
It doesn’t have to be tropical inside, but a steady flow of heat can prevent this from happening and even if it still does flood, you can prove you did everything to prevent this.
Overall, the main thing to consider is, when in doubt, call the policy provider. They will be happy to answer any questions and can advise as to whether or not a policy needs to be adjusted. Even the smallest element in question should be raised. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry in the long run.