Whilst it is becoming less and less common these days, from time to time you will come across clients whose land is unregistered at the Land Registry. This will usually come to light if we are searching for a land registry title to see if a property is held as joint tenants or tenants in common.
The fact that a property is unregistered is not a cause for alarm with a severance. In such a case, WillPack will provide just two copies of the notice of severance. These should be signed by the owners and one copy with their Wills and a further with the title deeds. Their intention to sever to tenants in common, evidenced by the signed notice, will be legally binding.
It is however highly advisable that owners register their property with the Land Registry during their lifetimes for a number of reasons.
A disposition of an unregistered property (be this on first death to a trust or second death if the property remains as joint tenants) is a trigger which requires the property to be registered with the land registry. Whilst the cost of a first registration varies depending on the value of the property in questions, a mandatory registration does have a higher land registry fee than if the owners voluntarily register the property during their lifetimes.
Should title deeds be lost or destroyed, it can be difficult to prove ownership of a property. It is still possible to register a property if titles deeds are lost or destroyed, it does however become a long, difficult and more expensive process and solicitors would need to be involved. If this is completed after death, it could cause a large delay between the death of the clients and distribution of the property to the eventual beneficiaries.
Unregistered land is also at a much higher risk of fraud. Registering a property at the Land Registry protects from a property potentially being fraudulently registered without the owners’ knowledge.