Living in Parents’ House After They Die Australia: Exploring the Possibilities

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Beyond the emotional devastation, losing a parent often comes with complex changes to your living situation. You might wonder:  Can I stay in my parents’ house? Could I sell it? What are the legal and financial implications?

This blog post will unravel your rights to your family home after a parent passes away in Australia.

Do I automatically inherit the house if my parents die?

Whether you can legally continue living in your parent’s house after they die depends on several factors, including the terms of their will, the property’s ownership structure, and state or territory laws governing inheritance and property rights. 

Here’s a breakdown important factors to consider:

The Will

If your parents have left a will specifying that you are to inherit the house or have the right to live there, you can generally continue living there.

The will’s terms should outline your rights and any conditions attached to your inheritance or residency.

Intestacy Rules

If your parents died without a will (intestate), their estate, including the house, would be distributed according to the intestacy laws of the state or territory in which they resided. These laws determine which relatives are entitled to a portion of the estate.

If you are the next of kin, you might inherit the house or a share of it, potentially allowing you to continue living there.

Joint Ownership

Suppose your parents owned the property jointly, and they had a right of survivorship (common in joint tenancies). In that case, the surviving owner automatically inherits the other’s share upon death.

If you were a joint owner, you would become the sole owner. However, this scenario applies less commonly to children and more frequently to how property is owned between spouses.

Trusts and Other Legal Arrangements

If the property is held in a trust or another legal arrangement, whether you can continue living there will depend on the terms of the trust or arrangement.

Some trusts specify the conditions for beneficiaries to use or reside in property assets.

Probate Process

Before any property can be transferred to beneficiaries, the estate must go through probate, the legal process of administering the deceased’s estate.

You will often need to wait until this process is completed before finalising any legal transfer of ownership of the house.

Family Agreements

In some cases, even if the legal entitlement is not clearly set out in the deceased’s will, family members may mutually agree to allow a family member to continue living in the deceased’s house.

Such agreements should ideally be documented legally to prevent future disputes.

Given the complexity of estate law and the potential for variation across different jurisdictions in Australia, consulting with a legal professional specialising in estate planning and inheritance law is advisable.

They can provide guidance specific to your situation, including how the law applies in your state or territory, and help navigate any legal processes required to secure your right to continue living in your parent’s house.

Am I liable for my parents’ mortgage or other debts on the property?

Generally, you are not personally liable for your parents’ mortgage or other debts attached to their property in Australia simply because you are their child. Instead here’s how it often unfolds:

  • The Estate is responsible: When someone dies, their debts become the responsibility of their estate. This means their assets (bank accounts, investments, the house itself) are used to pay off any outstanding debts before anything is distributed to beneficiaries.
  • Limited Liability: If the estate’s value is enough to cover the debts, you won’t have to pay out of your own pocket.  However, if the estate is insolvent (the debts exceed the assets), creditors usually cannot pursue you for the remaining debt.


  • Co-signer or Guarantor: You ARE liable for the debt if you were a co-signer on any loan (including the mortgage) or acted as a guarantor for your parents.
  • Joint Debts: You would be responsible if you have joint accounts or other debts with your parents.
  • Mismanaging the Estate: If you’re responsible for administering the estate (the executor) and mishandle the process, in rare cases you could be held personally liable under certain circumstances.

What if the debt is larger than the house’s value?

In this situation,  the lender usually cannot personally force you to pay the outstanding debt. They may sell the house to recover as much as possible, but the remaining debt could go unpaid.

Important:   Always seek legal advice from the estate lawyer for your specific situation, as inheritance law and the handling of estates can be complex. A qualified solicitor will inform you about your rights and liabilities.

Unfinished Mortgage After Parents’ Passing

Our client approached Walker Pender, uncertain about her liability for her late parents’ unfinished mortgage. She was concerned about her obligations and the future of her family home.

Our legal team provided comprehensive advice on her responsibilities and potential options under Australian law. We guided her through the process of taking on the mortgage under her name, exploring refinancing options, and communicating with the lender to secure a financially viable solution.

Our diligent efforts and negotiation skills led to her successfully taking over the mortgage payments and ultimately receiving the title to the property, securing her rightful inheritance.

Secure Your Right to Live in Your Parents’ House After They Die

Concerned about your rights to continue living in your parents’ house after they pass away in Australia? Walker Pender guides you through inheritance law and estate planning complexities.

Ensure your peace of mind and secure your living situation with our expert legal advice. Contact us today to protect your future in your family home.

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