Selling a property is one of the most stressful events we can go through and dealing with this after the loss of a loved one can be exceptionally difficult. We take a look at probate property sales and give you some tips to help you manage this challenging process.
After someone’s death, if there is a property to be sold it is likely to take some time. This is because their personal representative will need to obtain legal authority to carry out the sale by obtaining either a Grant of Probate or, if the deceased did not leave a Will, a Grant of Letters of Administration.
Valuing the property
You will need to have the property valued along with the deceased’s other assets. It is important to try and obtain accurate values as the total figure is what the Inheritance Tax payment will be based on and any shortfall will have to be made up promptly or interest and penalties may be payable.
Obtaining a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration
You will need to obtain either a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration from the Probate Registry. Once you have paid the Inheritance Tax, if any is due, you can send the application form together with the original Will and a cheque for the application fee.
This first stage of the process can take many weeks, depending on how quickly you can obtain valuations of the assets and how busy the Probate Registry is.
Marketing the property
You can put the property on the market in the meantime if you wish, but you will not be able to complete the sale until the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration has been received. As the conveyancing process also takes time, it is often the case that buyers are happy to make an offer and start work before the Grant is received.
Our top tips for dealing with a probate property sale
Consider whether you should clear the property before it is marketed
Clearing a property can take time, particularly if it belonged to a close family member. You are likely to want to take your time going through their possessions and ensuring that you find the right home for them all.
By clearing the property before you market it, you can avoid the stress of having to clear it later on when completion is imminent. Alternatively, you may decide to keep the furniture in place, but it can still be very helpful to remove most of the smaller items so that you leave yourself less to do.
Find important documentation as you go through the deceased’s paperwork
As you go through the deceased’s personal effects, look out for documents relating to the property that could be useful in the sale. As well as the title deeds or copies of the legal title, this could include planning consents, building regulations approval and guarantees for work that has been carried out, such as the installation of new windows.
You should put this to one side and pass it to your solicitor once you start the sale process.
If you are an executor or administrator, it is open to you to instruct a solicitor to deal with the estate administration on your behalf. The process can be time-consuming and is often complicated, so if you are particularly busy it is likely to be easier to ask a professional to step in.
If you do decide to instruct a solicitor, look for a firm that can also carry out the conveyancing so that you can have a comprehensive service.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at [email protected].