What To Do When Someone Dies

How to deal with the Council Tax account of a deceased person

It is understandable that notifying the Council Tax office when someone has died will take second place to the many other arrangements that have to be made.

However, as soon as possible, a relative, friend or solicitor of the deceased should inform the Council Tax office about the death of an occupant of a property.

  1. Information we need when someone dies

  2. What if I am unable to provide all of this information?

  3. How will Council Tax be affected by the death of an adult occupant?

  4. Council Tax Reduction Scheme & Housing Benefit

  5. Council Tax Liability for Executors

  6. FAQ's

 

1. Information we need when someone dies

You need to let us know:

  • The name of the deceased persons and the date they died; 
  • The address where they lived;
  • Whether a Single Person Discount is now required. If there is now only one adult living in the property a 25% discount may be applicable.

If the deceased was a Council Tax payer we will need the following information:

  • The names and addresses of any executors to the will of the deceased person; 

and

  • The name and address of an appointed solicitor if you wish the council to deal direct with a solicitor.

You can tell us this information using our online form (PDF, 11KB) or telephoning us on 01908 253794. 

2. What if I am unable to provide all of this information?

There is no need to worry. If you are providing this information only a short time after a person's death you may only be in a position to give their name and address. Further information can always be provided once it is known.

3. How will Council Tax be affected by the death of an adult occupant?

When a property is left empty by a home owner who is deceased and was a sole occupier, it is exempt from Council Tax payment. This is the case as long as it remains unoccupied, until probate is granted.

Following a grant of probate, a further six months exemption is possible as long as the property remains unoccupied and has not been sold or transferred to someone else.
It is important that the executor(s) keep the Council Tax office informed of:

  • the date probate is granted;
  • details of the transfer or sale of the property or the end date of the tenancy;
  • when the estate is settled.

During this time the council may contact the executors periodically to review entitlement to the exemption.

Six months from the date probate is granted the full Council Tax will be due to be paid by the executors of the estate.

When a property was previously occupied by two adults the Council Tax charge might have been in both names or only in the name of one of the occupants.

Providing only one person continues to live in the property we will transfer the Council Tax solely into their name and grant a 25% sole occupier discount.

More than two adults living in a property

If a property was occupied by more than two adults, and one person dies, we will transfer the Council Tax into the name of the remaining owner/occupiers or joint tenants.

4. Council Tax Reduction Scheme & Housing Benefit

If you have been receiving help with your Council Tax or rent by claiming Council Tax Reduction or Housing Benefit as a couple, it may mean that you will need to make a claim in your own right. Please call the Council’s Benefit Office on 01908 253100 where an officer will help you in your application.

The claim process has been made as simple as possible and on most occasions can be completed on the telephone without the need to visit the council offices in person.

If you have not previously claimed as a couple, you may wish to consider applying based on your current circumstances. If you have any doubt as to whether you may qualify please contact the Council’s Benefit Office on 01908 253100 where an officer can advise you, explain the application process and if appropriate, arrange a telephone application at a convenient time. 

5. Council Tax Liability for Executors

Executors are the people appointed in the will to deal with the estate of a person who has died.

When probate is granted a document is issued to the executor providing them with the authority to deal with the estate.

If, after probate is granted ownership of a property is transferred to a beneficiary of the will, any liability for Council Tax passes to the beneficiary.

If for any reason after probate has been granted the property remains under the control of the estate for more than six months, a full Council Tax charge is due. The executor is responsible for making payment of the council tax.

The executor is not personally liable for Council Tax charges but they must make payment of any outstanding bills due from the deceased estate before the estate is settled.

If the executor cannot make payment for any reason they should contact the council immediately.

6. FAQ's

Q I live with someone who has now passed away, what happens about the Council Tax? Who will be liable?

Answer: If a property was occupied by more than two adults, and one person dies, we will transfer the Council Tax into the name of the remaining owner/occupiers or joint tenants.

Providing that we have been notified that only one person continues to live in the property we will transfer the Council Tax solely into their name and grant a 25% sole occupier discount.

Q Do I have to pay Council Tax if the person who lived there has passed away and the house is empty?

Answer: Council Tax Legislation states that a property left empty by a deceased person is exempt from Council Tax payment, as long as it remains unoccupied and until probate is granted. It is important that the executor(s) keeps the Council Tax office informed of:

  • The date probate is granted;
  • Details of the transfer or sale of the property or the end date of the tenancy;
  • When the estate is settled.

During this time the council may contact the executors periodically to review entitlement to the exemption.

Six months from the date probate is granted the full Council Tax will be due to be paid by the executors of the estate.

Q I am an executor for a person who has now passed away, what are my responsibilities regarding Council Tax?

Answer: One or more 'executors' may be named in the will to deal with the person's affairs after their death.

The executor applies for a 'grant of probate' from a section of the court known as the probate registry. The grant is a legal document, which confirms that the executor has the authority to deal with the estate.

The executor will be responsible for ensuring the Council Tax is paid. The executor is not personally liable for Council Tax charges but they must make payment of any outstanding balance due before the estate is settled.

If the executor cannot make payment for any reason they should contact the Council immediately.

Q Is there an exemption for Council Tax when someone has passed away?

Answer: An exemption is available on the property if it becomes unoccupied. This applies until probate is granted or the estate is settled. A further 6 months exemption will then apply.

Q What happens when probate has been granted, do I then need to pay Council Tax?

Answer: Following a grant of probate, a further six months exemption is possible as long as the property remains unoccupied and has not been sold or transferred to a new owner or occupier.

After six months, the full Council Tax charge becomes due and payable by the estate. It is important that the executor(s) keeps the Council Tax office informed of:

  • The date probate is granted;
  • Details of the transfer or sale of the property or the end date of the tenancy;
  • When the estate is settled.

Q There is an amount owing for Council Tax but the person who lived there has passed away, and I can’t pay, what do I do?

Answer:

  • Proof must be sent to us confirming there are no funds available from the estate to settle arrears.
  • This can be one of the following:-
    • Letter from Solicitor
    • Letter from Next of Kin/Power of Attorney
    • Executor

We will then consider whether the debt can be written off. You can email the details to:- counciltax@milton-keynes.gov.uk

Q There is a credit for Council Tax but the person has passed away, who is entitled to the refund?

Answer: Refunds can be made to the executor, the next of kin, a solicitor, or the beneficiary or any other nominated person. We will require proof that you are entitled to the refund so we will need either a copy of probate, a copy of the will or a solicitor’s letter to advise who will be entitled to the credit.

You can email the details to:- counciltax@milton-keynes.gov.uk

Q I am the sole beneficiary to the estate of someone who has passed away; do I have to pay the Council Tax?

Answer: Yes, as a beneficiary, you will have a legal interest in the property.

The Council Tax will be payable once the legal transfer has happened i.e. probate has been granted and the property is legally transferred to the beneficiary (the estate has been settled).

Prior to this there are exemptions that will apply. If you need more information on this, contact us by emailing counciltax@milton-keynes.gov.uk or call us 01908 253794.

Q What happens if there is still furniture in the property of the deceased person, can I still have an exemption?

Answer: Yes, as long as the property remains unoccupied, the relevant unoccupied deceased exemption will apply regardless of whether furniture has been removed.

An exemption will apply from the date of death. This exemption will remain in place until probate is granted.

Once probate has been granted or the estate is settled, a further 6 months exemption will then apply before a charge becomes due.

Let us know when the property does become unfurnished however as a further discount could apply dependant on the date it was removed. Contact us by emailing:- counciltax@milton-keynes.gov.uk or call us 01908 253794.

Q I have completed a tell us once form when I reported the death, do I need to do anything else?

Answer: No, the tell us once form gives us all the information we need to know at this stage.

It is important that the executor(s) keeps the Council Tax office informed of:

  • The date probate is granted;
  • Details of the transfer or sale of the property or the end date of the tenancy;
  • When the estate is settled.

You can email the details to counciltax@milton-keynes.gov.ukor call us on 01908 253794.

Q Do I need to provide a death certificate to you?

Answer: Not usually no. We would only advise this is needed if the informer is the first to advise us of a death and we have no other information on record.

If we have received a tell us once form from the registrars service, we will not require a death certificate. If the deceased passed away abroad, we may request the death certificate.

Q How do I inform the Benefits section if there is Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction in pay for a person who has now passed away?

Answer: If you have been receiving help with your Council Tax or rent by claiming Council Tax Reduction or Housing Benefit as a couple, it may mean that you will need to make a claim in your own right.

Please visit our website to report a change in your circumstances https://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/benefits-council-tax/benefits/housing-benefit/change-in-circumstances

Or email benefits@milton-keynes.gov.ukIf you have not previously claimed as a couple, you may wish to consider applying based on your current circumstances.

Q The property of the deceased person is now sold, who has to tell you this?

Answer: The new owners should inform us of this and register for Council Tax.

However the next of kin or executor can also inform us, as this allows us to finalise the deceased account sooner rather than later.

We require the completion date and the new owner’s details. If the details are not known then please provide the name of the estate agents or solicitor dealing with the sale. You can email the details to counciltax@milton-keynes.gov.ukor call us on 01908 253794.

Q The property in which the deceased person lived in was rented, not owned by them. What details do you need in respect of Council Tax?

Answer:Council Tax Legislation states that a property left empty by a deceased person is exempt from Council Tax payment, as long as it remains unoccupied. We will require the tenancy end date so we can finalise the account, please let us know when this information is available.

You can email the details to counciltax@milton-keynes.gov.uk or call us on 01908 253794. If there are other residents in the property when the tenant passed away and they succeed the tenancy, we will also require the names of all persons that live there.

Q The property was shared ownership with a Housing Association, who becomes liable for the Council Tax when the part owner passes away?

Answer: Under the regulations, qualifying persons with a ‘material interest’ would be made liable for the Council Tax. If the property is left empty, the executor and the Housing Association will both be jointly and severally liable for Council Tax.

This is a general guide to Council Tax and is not a substitute for the relevant statutes and regulations.

Last Updated: 27 September 2019