Managing the property of a loved one who has passed away is never an easy affair. It’s an emotional time and there are a number of matters to deal with when managing the deceased estate. If you wish to sell a probate property then the legal aspects need to be taken care of. A property cannot be put on the market before this has been done.
This article will cover the basic process of selling a probate property.
What does Probate Property mean?
Probate is the legal process of being given permission to deal with the estate of someone who is deceased. This could be a family member, partner or in some cases a friend. Before anything can be processed a ‘Grant of Probate’ will need to be obtained.
What is a Grant of Probate Property and what is the Process?
A Grant of Probate is required when you are selling the property as an executor of someone’s will. The document obtained is issued by the court which confirms the validity of the will. It also confirms the executor as the legal authority to deal with the deceased individual’s assets. This process can take around 12 weeks to complete and can have a few different circumstances attached e.g.
- Non-Taxable Estate (No inheritance Tax Due) – Around 6 Weeks
- Taxable Estate (Inheritance Tax is due) – Around 12 Weeks
- Urgent Situations (e.g. for court cases) – As little as 2 Weeks
Prior to applying for a Grant of Probate, you need to ensure that you have obtained all the necessary documents. This way, a solicitor can determine the value of the deceased estate and validity of the will. You will need some of the following
- The death certificate
- The original will
- The deceased national insurance number
- Property Deeds
- Mortgage Information
- Bank statements
As part of the application process for a grant, you will need to have the property valued. Ideally having it valued by two or three separate agencies will give you a good understanding of its value. A valuation is required as the houses price will then be added to the overall amount of the other elements of the will. For example, savings or possessions. A surveyors valuation can also be accepted.
Check the Title & Deeds
Ensuring that the deceased’s name is on the registered property is a key element to applying for a Grant of Probate. Where the property is registered with the Land Registry this will make the process a lot smoother and easier to complete.
When the home is based in a rural location and has been owned for several years, obtaining this information may not be as easy. If this is the case, then a copy of the written deeds will need to be obtained to confirm the registered owner of the property.
Can I Sell before Probate is Granted?
Technically, the answer is no. However. If you are named on the deeds of the property (i.e. spouse of the deceased) then this process may to be quicker. Whereas if you are a beneficiary then you are not allowed to sell the property until the grant is complete.
Many spouses who are already on the deeds of the home will put the house up for sale as they are legally allowed to. However, if you receive an offer at this time then you are not allowed to formally accept it until the grant has been completed.
What Happens if not all Beneficiaries Agree on What to do with the Probate Property?
Sometimes the hardest part about trying to sell a probate property is that all the parties involved do not agree on what to do with the home. If you are named a beneficiary on a will then your point of view has to be heard. This is something that can slow down the process.
However, it is the job of the executor on a will to ensure that the will is carried out as it has been stated. Any parties not happy are then allowed to launch an appeal in a court, however, these have to be considerable evidence for the will to be overturned.
What Happens if the Sale Price is Different to the Value Given in the Grant of Probate?
In some cases, the sale of the home may be different than what is given in the grant of probate. This is why you are required to have two to three different valuations from separate estate agencies. If the property is to sell at a higher price (inside three years) of the initial valuation then you may be liable to pay more tax.
Equally, if the property is to sell within four years of the date of death for a much lesser price than what it is valued at, then you may also be able to apply for a tax rebate. This is all relative to the cost of the home, and the amount of inheritance tax you have already paid.
If you wish to sell a probate property then you need to follow a very rigid process in order to complete everything. Having a strong executor and someone who is organised will be very important to make sure that everything is in hand. It is also of note that having paperwork, or knowing where specific paperwork is can also make the process smoother.