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Things to think about if someone in your household dies

This section will give you an idea of how a death in your household can affect you. It also points out some of the key things you need to ask yourself to find out what your rights are.

How could you be affected?

If you lived with the person who has died, the fact that they have passed away may affect your home as well.

If this has happened to you, you need to check whether or not you have any right to continue living there either by yourself or with other people.

Even if you have lived in the house for a long time before the other person died, that does not necessarily mean that you have a right to stay there. Different laws affect your rights here. The law is complicated and you should always seek independent legal advice to make sure you know where you stand.

You must also check if any of the benefits you or your partner claimed could be affected. Contact your local benefits office to do this.

Don't move out of your house until you know what your rights are.

Is your home rented or bought?

Your right to continue living in your home when someone you live with dies will vary depending on whether you live in rented accommodation or whether the property has been bought by you or someone you live with. Therefore, it's very important to know whether your house is rented or bought and also who is either the tenant or the owner.

If you, or the person who has died, owns part of your house but you also pay rent, this is called shared ownership. You can get more information in our section on shared ownership rights.

If you live in rented property, there are lots of different factors that could affect you. You can find out more by looking at our section on renting rights.

If you live in property which you partly own, or which is owned by a close relative of yours (such as your husband, wife, partner or parents), and the owner dies, then your rights will depend on different things. You can find out more about this in our section on home ownership.

Things to consider

As a start, the following checklist gives you some things to think about. All the factors in the list below can make a difference to whether or not you can continue to stay in your home:

  • Does anyone else live in the house with you?
  • Is your home rented? If it is, who is the landlord?
  • Did the person who died buy the house you live in?
    • If so, did you give them money to help them to buy it?
    • Have you borrowed any money to help you buy the property?
  • Have you signed any legal documents giving you a right to the property?
  • Do you pay some of the rent or mortgage so you can stay in the house? Does anyone else make similar payments?
  • Can you afford to keep making the payments on your own if need be?
  • Was the person who died entitled to any benefits towards paying for the house you live in? You will need to inform your local benefits office of any change in your circumstance. In some areas you can do this by telephone, not necesarily in person, but check with the benefits office that it's ok to do this.
  • Are you related to the person who died? If so, what is your relationship to them? (for example, is the person who died your husband or wife or your mum or dad?).

For general information on what to do if someone you know dies, the Scottish government has published a guide on what to do at a time of bereavement.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're England

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