Probate – or a “grant of representation” as it is also known – is the legal instrument giving you the right to handle someone’s estate after they have died. It is a legal process that involves gathering together all the property, possessions and money due to the deceased person’s estate, and using the resources of the estate to settle outstanding debts and tax liabilities.
Probate may be a lengthy and complicated process. But during what might be an indeterminate period of time, the executor or executors of the estate also have a duty and responsibility to ensure the safety, security and protection of the property owned by the deceased.
Property insurance is the most effective way of achieving the desired level of security and that is what makes home insurance during probate such an important consideration.
The deceased is likely to have arranged home building and contents insurance for the property he or she lived in. So, what happens to that house insurance after the death of the policyholder?
Problems may arise as probate drags on and the property concerned is invariably left empty and unoccupied. This represents a potential problem because regular home insurance typically lapses or becomes restricted in the level of cover it offers once the house has been unoccupied for a period of between 30 and 45 consecutive days – this is an illustrative range, but the actual period varies from one insurer to another.
Standard forms of home insurance recognise the special risks to which an empty and unoccupied property is vulnerable:
- a relatively minor incident requiring routine repairs or maintenance might develop into a full-blown emergency if there is no one at home to report the fault; and
- empty properties act as magnets to all manner of unwanted attention from the likes of intruders, squatters, vandals and even arsonists.
Insurance during probate
During the period of probate, therefore, a special form of property insurance is required to cover those periods when the home is likely to be unoccupied.
That is a particular form of insurance in which we have taken a special interest here at UKinsuranceNET, where we are able to provide precisely the cover you need for however long the process of probate may last.
House insurance during probate cover may be arranged to provide the level of protection you need for the structure and fabric of the building itself and for its contents – even though the property is temporarily unoccupied.
A further important consideration is maintaining the public liability cover needed for the property during this period. If a visitor – even an illegal intruder – neighbour or passing member of the public is injured or has their property damaged in some way connected with the property, the estate may be sued for substantial damages – and it is usual for public liability insurance to provide a minimum of £1 million of cover.
This type of property insurance during probate may be short-term or may need to be extended for as long as the probate lasts. Typically, therefore, cover may be arranged for the months during which the property is actually unoccupied, rather than the more conventional insistence on a full 12 months of insurance.