It is common practice for partners who purchase real estate together to purchase the property as joint tenants. By purchasing the property as joint tenants, it means that if one partner passes away, the other becomes the sole owner of that property. While most people seem to understand the right of survivorship concept in these circumstances, there are many who do not realise that it is not just a matter of simply writing to your local Council to ask that the rates notice no longer refer to the deceased person, as that does not change the name of the registered proprietors on the property title.
I have been dealing with a lot of estate administration matters lately where a deceased partner has been gone for several years, but their surviving partner has never applied to NSW Land Registry Services to have their name removed from the title. This can complicate the second partner’s estate administration unnecessarily, the first partner’s name needs to be removed from the title before the executor of the second partner’s estate can deal with the property. It can often lead to having to track down a copy of the first partner’s death certificate and any other relevant documents, sometimes many years after their passing.
If you find yourself in this situation, where the co-owner of your property has unfortunately passed away, make sure you speak to a solicitor or conveyancer to find out what you need to do in order to have the deceased person’s name removed from the property title. It will usually just require you to provide their death certificate, a copy of the most recent Council rates notice and for you to verify your identity as the remaining registered proprietor of the property. The solicitor or conveyancer can then lodge the necessary notice of death with NSW Land Registry Services using the online conveyancing platform that operates in NSW, which also automatically sends a notification to the Council regarding the changes made to the ownership of the property. It’s a relatively simple process that is often overlooked when one partner passes away, but it can save the executor of your estate a lot of time and trouble later.
KC Hilton, WNB Legal