Probate Sales: A Simple Guide

Organising the practical matters following the passing of a family member can be quite challenging. Selling a house is already a complex task to handle. In this guide, we present a 10-step procedure for selling a property inherited after a death, starting from listing it for sale to the concluding steps of the process.

How to sell a property after someone dies

Selling a home following a person's death involves a slightly different procedure. To sell a deceased individual's property, you need to be named as the executor of their will. Below are the necessary steps you should take:

Apply for probate

In your role as the executor of a will, you will require a grant of probate, a court-issued legal document. The cost of applying for probate ranges from £155 to £273, depending on whether you handle it independently or seek professional assistance. Once acquired, this document validates your authority, along with any other executors, to manage the deceased person's assets and finances. Having probate allows you to legally sell a property, though the process can take at least 12 weeks. To apply for probate, visit GOV.UK.

Get a valuation on the property

Obtain a valuation for the home promptly. You can do this while awaiting probate, or even before submitting your application. In the case of a probate sale, the valuation should align with the home's market value on the date of the owner's death. This figure may slightly differ from the eventual selling price, but it is not a major concern at this point. The Property Centre offers a no-obligation valuation service. We will arrange to visit the property at your convenience and provide you with our estimated value.

Get a lawyer to help you check the title and deeds

Legal documents demonstrating property ownership, such as a title and deeds, can be obtained from the Land Registry. It is advisable to have a solicitor review them to identify any potential issues, such as restrictions or defects, that may need to be addressed before the property can be sold. It is also important to check for any undisclosed mortgages or the possibility of shared ownership by another party. Verify the title and deeds of a property through the Land Registry at GOV.UK.

What if not everyone agrees to sell a probate home?

There may be multiple individuals listed as estate beneficiaries, but not all will need to consent to selling a home within the estate. Only the appointed executors hold the authority to approve the home's sale, while other potential beneficiaries typically do not require approval. While some wills may require all beneficiaries to approve a home sale, this is not always the case. It is advisable to communicate with all parties involved to ensure their input is considered. In the event of a below-market sale, dissatisfied beneficiaries can pursue legal action against the executor, although this scenario is uncommon. Maintaining open communication and documenting all agreements can help manage emotions during a sensitive time.

Put the property on the market

Selling a home with The Property Centre is a simple process. Following the grant of probate, you have the freedom to decide how you want to sell the property. Selling an inherited property can be stressful and time-consuming due to the interactions between solicitors and estate agents following a loss. To alleviate this, The property Centre can handle viewings and all associated administration to progress the sale, which is especially beneficial if you are not residing close to the property being sold.

Get the market value when you sell

As the executor, it is your legal responsibility to sell the property at its market value. Selling for less could result in a beneficiary suing you for the shortfall. Consider this before accepting a low offer in an attempt to sell the property swiftly. Waiting for the right price might be more beneficial. Utilise our online valuation tool to give an idea of the current market value.

Be realistic about timescales

Legally, there are no restrictions on listing the property and agreeing to an offer before probate is granted. However, the probate grant is necessary for contract exchange, which can take at least 12 weeks. Therefore, it is crucial to provide estate agents and prospective buyers with an accurate timeframe for selling the property before probate.

Get the home insured

It is part of your responsibility as an executor to ensure that the property being sold has proper insurance coverage. If the insurance policy is still under the deceased person's name, insurers may refuse to honour any claims. Contact the insurer to update the policyholder's name easily. Inform the insurer if the property is now vacant, as most home insurance policies do not cover unoccupied properties for more than 30 days. Additional coverage may be necessary if the house remains empty for an extended period. Insurers might not cover the contents after the homeowner's passing due to increased burglary risks. Consider removing valuable items, but discuss this with family members and beneficiaries to prevent conflicts and disagreements.

Clear the house

It is your responsibility to empty the house of all furniture and possessions before it is sold. This may prove challenging, especially if the home holds many memories. Make sure to allocate ample time to assist you in sorting through everything, and seek professional help if necessary. Companies specialising in house clearance and charitable furniture stores can arrange to pick up larger items for a cost. You or other heirs may wish to retain certain furniture or items from the house.

What will it cost?

Legal costs for selling the property should not exceed standard expenses. Additional costs such as clearance, cleaning, and extra insurance may apply. Considerations like heating the home during winter to prevent dampness and investing in property improvements if struggling to sell are important. Utilising estate funds for improvements is an option as an executor. Confirming approval from all parties involved is recommended before making any expenditures, though the final decision rests with you.



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