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How do you sell a house in probate?

10 Jan 2020

Author: Alison Rowley

Selling a house in Probate

If you are the Executor of a Will, you may find yourself needing to sell a house in Probate. This may happen if the deceased person owned a house or flat in their sole name, and the beneficiaries of the Will need to split the value of the estate.

What is Probate?

Probate is the process of obtaining permission from the Court to deal with the estate of someone who has died. An Executor named in the Will is responsible for administrating the late person’s affairs. This is usually a friend or family member of the deceased, but if you choose you can appoint a professional Executor to carry out the Probate process.

Usually, an Executor needs to obtain a Grant of Probate before they can begin to administrate the Will and settle any outstanding debts. This involves several steps including registering the death, valuing the estate and any paying inheritance tax due, plus Probate fees.

What does it mean to sell a house in Probate?

If you are selling a house in Probate, it’s important to be aware that it could be quite a lengthy process. You will need to get a Grant of Probate in place before completing on the sale, which can take several months. You can, however, have the property valued and put it on the market before Probate has been granted. If someone makes an offer on the property, you can accept it, but you will need to wait for Probate before exchanging contracts.

What are the steps involved in selling a house during Probate?

Selling a house during Probate involves several different steps.

  • Register the death. You will need to provide a death certificate as part of the Probate application process. You’ll also need the original copy of their Will.
  • Get the house valued. It’s important to know the value of the property in order to apply for a Grant of Probate. Ask two or three estate agents to come and value the property and use the average valuation in your Probate application.
  • Check the title and deeds for the property. This is important when selling any property, so that you are aware of any restrictions on the land or the property itself. You should be able to find these electronically through the Land Registry. If not, you’ll need to find the paper title deeds. These are likely to be kept by the deceased’s Solicitor.
  • Pay Inheritance Tax. The inheritance tax due on the late person’s estate must be paid before Probate can be granted. As you won’t yet have access to their estate, this isn’t always affordable, but you may be able to use the Direct Payment Scheme to pay tax using money from the estate. Or you could apply for an Executor’s loan, designed to bridge the gap between applying for Probate and gaining access to the deceased person’s affairs.
  • Apply for a Grant of Probate. You’ll need to complete a form and pay a Probate application fee.

How can a Solicitor help?

Selling a house in Probate can require a level of time and dedication that you may not be able to give, especially if you are grieving for a loved one. Specialist knowledge about the Probate process and the business of selling a Probate property can make the sale happen more smoothly.

At Hepburn Delaney, we are experts in Wills and Probate. We offer two levels of service related to Grant of Probate and Estate Administration:

  • applying for and obtaining a Grant of Probate so that you can administrate the estate yourself, or
  • a full administration of the Estate, which includes the probate application plus dealing with the sale of the property, paying any fees due and distributing funds to beneficiaries.

To find out more about how we can help you with the sale of a property in Probate, please contact us on 01442 218090 or email info@hepburndelaney.co.uk.