Leaving property vacant without checking the estate home insurance policy could cost you.
Ontario estate trustees beware, depending on how the estate home insurance is worded, the premises may not be covered. Claims for vandalism, fire, burst water lines, or weather damage may all be denied if a home is unoccupied for as little as 96 hours.
In the typical time it takes to plan a funeral ceremony, the estate home insurance could be voided. If you’ve been named executor, you need to take swift action to review the estate home insurance policy, and protect any assets for Wills and estates purposes.
Otherwise, you could be adding a home insurance lawyer to your list of duties.
Why hiring a Wills lawyer is better than writing your own.
What Vacant or Unoccupied Means for an Estate Home
Most homeowners sign their insurance policy without a thought about what would happen if they suddenly died. What may be their most expensive investment, their home, can be jeopardized by an vehicle accident or, more commonly, heart attack or stroke.
Transfer of property after death with Will (Ontario) – who owns the matrimonial home.
One Canadian dies every five minutes from heart, stroke, or a vascular condition. With an average of 70% of Ontario deaths due to chronic disease, that’s a lot of vacant homes with no permanent residents. Even being hospitalized for serious illness may mean their domicile is considered unoccupied (temporarily empty until the residents return) by their home insurer.
Considering gaps between renters, or leaving a home empty while it’s on the MLS, can give an estate home vacant property status, acting quickly can prevent costly mistakes.
Insuring a Vacant Estate Home
Homeowner insurance policies typically exclude coverage for:
- water escape
- glass damage
- or other damages the insured may have averted if the home was occupied and not left vacant.
Leaving the family home in Ontario Wills.
Fire, and wind or other weather damages, are uninsurable once a home has been vacant 30 days or more. By that time, the entire home insurance policy is usually void.
Your duty as executor of the deceased’s Wills and estates is to protect the estate home. That can include arranging for the home to be occupied, or obtaining a home insurance vacancy permit. Permits give an estate home basic protection, for example, against a fire that damages or destroys it.
Exclusions When You Buy Home Insurance (Ontario)
Since permits only provide basic insurance coverage for an estate home, some exclusions may still apply as for homes left permanently unoccupied. Confirm if the vacancy permit covers common hazards like broken glass or other damage caused by vandals or thieves, extreme weather, frozen pipes, and heating or sprinkler system failures.
Apply to occupy a matrimonial home when your spouse dies.
The permit could at least secure the home against substantial loss while a legally married spouse applies for their survivorship right for transfer of property after death with a Will (Ontario). It can also buy time for you to obtain a certificate of appointment of estate trustee with a Will, giving you legal authority to act for the deceased.
Draft or update Wills to protect your own estate. Here’s what to include.
Six Steps You Can Take to Secure an Estate Home
Your estate trustee duties extend to preserving real property and other assets until they are distributed according to the deceased’s Wills. As that can take months, or even years, you can reduce your own liability by temporarily securing the estate home.
- Check if spouses or adult children have joint tenancy arrangements that carry on after a death.
- Find family or friends who could occupy the home.
- Arrange a short-term rental while the property is listed for sale.
- Protect the home against weather hazards:
- turn off the water, and drain water pipes and toilets
- install automatic water and temperature sensors that alert you to problems
- inspect the home regularly to stop problems before they start.
- Cut grass, collect mail, and put lights on timers to deter vandals, thieves, or squatters.
- Change locks to prevent family or former tenants from returning.
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Axess Law probate lawyers give you a first probate consultation for free. Axess Law virtual and in-person lawyers have answers to common questions, like what is probate and how long does probate take in Ontario.
Get Ontario court approval to be an estate executor.
We briefly explain your executor or estate trustee duties, and help you apply for a certificate of appointment of estate trustee with a Will, or without, to an Ontario probate court.
As the deceased’s personal representative, you are expected to collect and estimate the value of estate assets, then pay estate administration taxes to the court. Out of province or out of country executor? Ask your Axess Law probate lawyer about preparing an application to dispense with estate administration bonds that require you to post your own money before being legally authorized to act as estate trustee.
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