Dealing with a loved one’s financial affairs after they’ve passed can be emotionally draining. You may find that you’ve inherited their estate, including their home and are now responsible for selling it under probate.
Selling a property under probate is more complicated than a regular sale. Read on for advice on what you should know.
What does under probate mean?
So, what is probate? Probate is a legal and financial process that involves dealing with the estate of a person who has died. Their estate will include their own home, money, investments and any other property and assets they may own. This is all done following the law and the will of the deceased if they had one.
Applying for a Grant of probate
A Grant of Probate must be obtained before these proceedings can go ahead. This is to show that you have the right to sell the estate. You can either apply for the grant yourself or use your solicitor to do it on your behalf.
What is a Grant of Probate?
A Grant of probate is an official document, sealed by the Probate Registry. It is given to either the Executor named in the Will, the next of kin or the closest family member(s) if no Will has been made.
It confirms that the will is valid and that the person who holds it has the legal right to settle the estate.
Is a Grant of probate always necessary?
No, there are certain situations where applying for a grant is not necessary. They include:
- If the estate of the deceased does not include property, land, or shares
- If the property is under joint names, so if the deceased has a surviving partner.
Can you sell a house while it’s under probate?
The executor of the will can speak to estate agents and put the house on the market, conduct viewings and even go as far as accepting offers. However,contracts cannot be exchanged until the Grant of Probate has been obtained. So be sure to tell prospective buyers of the situation.
How long does it take to obtain the Grant of Probate?
The time it takes to obtain a Grant of Probate will depend upon the circumstances within the sale of the estate.
In general, it can take between 6-12 weeks to complete the application. However, it can also take up to 6 months or longer for more complicated estates.
As part of the application, you will need to have the estate valued. This is to see if there is any Inheritance Tax to pay.
A non-taxable estate (no Inheritance Tax due)
Should take about 6 weeks to complete. A taxable estate( Inheritance Tax is due) will take around 12 weeks. If you have an urgent situation e.g. a court case, then it can take as little as 2 weeks.
Documents that you need to apply for the grant of probate
You will need to provide your solicitor with the following documents to value to the estate and apply for the grant:
- Original will
- Death certificate
- ID (passport or driving licence)
- Details of outstanding debts and Utility bills
- Bank and Credit card Statements
- Mortgage information
- Details of any shares and savings
- Details of any pensions received/due
- Funeral expenses
- NI number (of the deceased)
- Property Deeds
How to sell the property once probate has been granted
There are several ways to sell the property under probate.
- You opt for the normal route and get an estate agent. Just be sure to tell them the property is under probate and shop around for the best quotes of fees etc.
- You can sell the property via a property auction. However, it is standard practice with a property auction to close the sale within 28 days. So you will need to have your probate granted if this is the option that you wish to take.
- You can sell the property directly to a cash buyer. This is an option if you don’t want to get an estate agent or sell through an auction. There are fewer issues that could complicate or delay the sale with this option.
How long does selling a property under probate take?
There is no shortcut to selling a house through probate. However, the earlier you apply for one and seek an estate agent and solicitors the better.
What to consider before selling property
- Secure the property- If the property has been emptied then it must be kept secure. Check all windows and doors are closed and locked.
- Value the property- You need to obtain a probate valuation of the property from a local estate agent. This needs to backdate to the date the deceased passed.
- Check the property- Check the property for any valuable items such as jewellery or anything else that might be worth money. Also check for documents such as the deeds for the house, account documents like shares and bonds. Keep them all in a safe place. Be extra careful to check everything you’re throwing away. You don’t want to accidentally throw away the deeds to the house
- Check the property’s paperwork- There are some cases where there is a third party interest in the property that the beneficiaries are not aware of. These can be mortgage or equity release charges. It can even be another person named on the property title and is therefore entitled to the whole property regardless of what the Will or Intestacy Rules state (Strict inheritance laws for when a person dies without a valid will)
Extra costs to be aware of
If you’re taking this on by yourself then you’ll have to pay to have the house cleaned before selling.
And if the property has been left unoccupied for more than 30days you will need to pay unoccupied property insurance.
You’ll also need to pay for maintenance costs, especially during winter months when the house will need to be heated to avoid damp.
You’ll also need to factor in the cost of valuations so that any potential Inheritance Tax is accounted for correctly.