Selling a probate house: everything you need to know.
After a person has passed away, selling a probate house is something the executor of the will may need to do.
There are rules that cover when probate is necessary and when it isn’t. There are also laws that govern when you are allowed to sell the deceased’s property and other assets.
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Here is everything you need to know about probate property sales:
What does it mean to sell a house in probate?
Selling a house in probate is the process of selling property that was owned by a deceased person whose will you are a named executor.
Before you start a probate sale of a house, you will need to acquire the legal right to do so. This is called the right of probate and arrives in the form of a Grant of Probate.
What is probate?
Probate is a legal right that gives a person named as executor in the will of someone who has passed away permission to administrate the deceased person’s estate.
Before they can get started distributing the deceased person’s assets – including selling any property – an executor needs to obtain a legal document called a Grant of Probate.
This document is distributed by the official Probate Registry and confirms that the executor has the legal right of probate. They are then able to start transferring the deceased person’s assets to the named beneficiaries of the will, sell them, and settle any debts.
Do you need probate before selling?
Technically speaking, you can get started on the process of selling a probate house before you have received your Grant of Probate. Before you have probate, you can:
- Get the property valued
- Put it on the market
- Accept an offer someone makes on the property
Crucially though, you cannot exchange contracts and complete the sale before you have the right of probate.
However, as the process of selling a house is often a lengthy one, it can be sensible to get started early if your solicitor doesn’t foresee any problems in the probate process.
When is probate not required for property sales?
There are only a few circumstances when probate is not required before you can administer the distribution of assets of a person who has died.
Chiefly, this will be when there is no will. In this case, an official document called a Grant of Letters of Administration is required and can be applied for by next of kin. You also will not need probate if:
- You are a joint landowner with the person who has died.
- You and the deceased person were joint tenants on a property (this is different from “tenants in common”, where tenants own specific shares of the property).
If you jointly owned other assets like shares or bank accounts it’s also likely you might not need a will or probate to have those things pass into your control. It’s usually worth getting professional legal confirmation though.
How do I sell a property under probate?
1) Register the death
Register the death to receive a copy of the death certificate. You’ll need this and a copy of the will to apply for probate. It’s worth requesting multiple copies of the death certificate as you’ll need them several times during the process.
2) Value the property
Get the property valued before you apply for the Grant of Probate as you’ll need to know this figure for the application. It’s common practice to get two or three different professional valuations and take the average.
3) Review property title and deeds
Are there any restrictions on land use or the property? These are listed in the official documentation and can be located through the Land Registry or via the hard copies of the title deeds. The solicitor of the person who has died will normally have possession of any paper documents.
4) Pay inheritance tax
You need to pay inheritance tax before you can receive a Grant of Probate. This may require you to use the Direct Payment Scheme (where the money comes from the deceased’s estate before you can technically access it) or get an executor loan.
5) Apply for probate
Once you’ve collected the required documents and financial information, you can pay the required fees and apply for the Grant of Probate.
Selling a probate house
As noted, you can start the process of selling a probate house – valuation, putting it on the market, and even accepting an offer, but not exchanging contracts – before you receive probate.
This means a probate property sale doesn’t necessarily need to take longer than the standard sale of a house. It can take anywhere from six to fourteen weeks to receive your Grant of Probate. But after that, you can go ahead and complete the sale.
Need friendly and approachable advice about selling a house in probate?
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