Any property or assets that are owned jointly with your spouse will usually transfer to you automatically under the rules of survivorship. For example, if you own a joint bank account with your spouse then if your spouse dies then that account will automatically be transferred to you without the need for a grant of probate. If your spouse owned bank accounts or an ISA in his/her sole name that are over £5000 then a grant of probate may be required to release those funds.
If your spouse had other assets such as shares in a company or a private pension then it also may be the case that you will need a grant of probate before you are able to deal with those assets.
There are two ways that you can own land jointly with another person:
In order to ascertain how you own your property with your spouse/civil partner then you can either contact the conveyancer who handled the purchase of the property for you or you can undertake an online search at the Land Registry. Kwil can undertake this search for you at a minimal cost and advise you exactly how your property is owned.
If you are civil partners then it works in exactly the same way as with married partners. Any property that is jointly owned will pass automatically to the surviving civil partner. Any assets that are held in the sole name of the deceased and are over £5000 may require a grant of probate.
If your spouse/civil partner did not leave a will then they are regarded as having died “intestate” and their estate will pass in accordance with the Intestacy Rules. Remember that any jointly owned property you owned with your spouse/civil partner will still pass directly to you as well as the first £270,000 of assets in his/her sole name. You would then be entitled to half of the remainder and the deceased’s children would be entitled to split the remaining half. If there are no children then everything will pass to you automatically.