The death of a parent or close family member is likely to be one of the hardest times of anyone’s life. Unfortunately, this may often be accompanied with having to clear and sell the property they lived in.
The combination of grief, the emotional experience of sorting through family possessions and the large amounts of paperwork involved in settling their affairs can make this an even more difficult time.
Selling a house in these circumstances is called selling a probate property. This article gives some guidance on what applying for probate involves, and the process of selling a house in probate.
What is probate?
Probate is the granting of legal authority to an Executor or family member to administer and disperse the Estate of the deceased, which can include property, money, possessions and other financial assets.
If the person died with a valid Will, a Grant of Probate is needed. If they died without a Will, you will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Collectively these are known as the Grant of Representation.
The Grant of Probate gives the recipient the right to sign contracts on the deceased’s behalf, such as those that are needed to sell property.
How long does it take to get a grant of probate?
It will vary, depending on the Estate of the deceased. If there is no inheritance tax due, probate is usually granted within 6 weeks. If the estate is taxable, then grant of probate could take up to 12 weeks.
The documents you’ll need for probate
Applying for probate from HMRC requires a significant number of documents relating to the deceased and the property.
- The original Will and any codicils
- Death certificate
- National Insurance number of deceased
- ID (passport / driving licence)
- Utility bills and details of outstanding debts
- Bank statements / account
- Credit card statements
- Property title deeds
- Mortgage information
- Details of any shares and savings
- Details of any pensions received / due
- Funeral expenses
Valuing property for probate
Before applying for probate you will need to have the property valued, even if you are not selling the house. As a house will usually represent the majority of an Estate’s assets, the value of the property will be an important part in the probate application. The valuation will also be essential in determining the level of inheritance tax you will need to pay.
Darlows can help with this, with a free, no obligation valuation from one of our trained professionals. They will conduct the valuation sensitively, appreciating that this is a difficult time for family members.
Selling a house in probate
There are strict rules as to what you are allowed to do when preparing a house for sale while applying for probate.
Can you market a property before probate?
An estate agent can make the property available for sale before probate has been granted, and conduct viewings with potential buyers. The Executor can also accept an offer while waiting for probate, and agree a sale, but not proceed further.
If a house is in probate can it be sold?
Property sales can be agreed ‘under’ or ‘in’ probate, which means that a Grant of probate is being applied for. However, until probate is granted contracts are not able to be exchanged or any funds from the Estate used to pay for expenses. Potential buyers should be made aware that the property transaction may be subject to delays because of probate issues.
Can you sell property after probate?
Yes. As soon as the Grant of Representation is received, the executors or next of kin can exchange contracts and complete the sale.
How long does it take to sell a house through probate?
It will depend on a number of factors, but property sales are likely to take longer than normal transactions. As mentioned above, applying for probate can take up to 12 weeks. This can however give more time for family members to sort through the possessions of the deceased, sell or disperse furniture and fittings.
Let us help you value your property for probate
If you find that you need to sell a house in these circumstances, please get in touch with us and we will provide a free property valuation for you. Our team will also, if required, be able to market the property and organise viewings.