House in probate? You need to know this

Selling a house that you have inherited from a now-deceased loved one can be a highly poignant moment, but it is also far from uncommon, with one recent survey cited by The Telegraph indicating that about one in every 10 properties now coming to the market is a probate property.

However, given that the process of selling a probate property is a little more complicated than a traditional house sale, there are certain things that you will need to know as a prospective seller.

What is probate?

When a person dies, it is necessary for someone to take on the responsibility of dealing with their affairs - otherwise known as 'administering the estate'.

If the deceased person has left a will, one or two people will usually be named in the will to act as the will's executors - in other words, to administer the estate. In the event of being named one of the executors, you may be required to apply for a grant of probate.  

Is the grant of probate required to sell the property?

As an executor, if the will's beneficiaries do not wish to have the deceased person's property transferred into their names, you will need to sell the property.

If the property was owned in the sole name of the deceased, the executors will not be able to sell or transfer the property without a grant of probate, issued by a section of the court known as the probate registry.

However, a property that is shown by the title deeds to be in the joint ownership of the deceased person and a surviving person can be sold without the grant of probate.

In the event of the grant of probate being required before the property can be sold, it is important not to underestimate the period of time that it can take for the grant to be obtained - especially if you intend to apply for the grant personally, instead of through a solicitor. Between two and three months is typical for even a straightforward estate.

What else needs to be known about selling a probate property?

When applying for the grant of probate, executors are required to complete either a return of estate information form or an inheritance tax (IHT) account, depending on the estate's nature and value, showing all of the assets and liabilities of the deceased, with date of death balances or valuations.

During the valuation process, the estate agent may indicate that there is already a potential buyer of the property. In this situation, as contracts can't be exchanged without a grant of probate, potential buyers must be given a realistic timescale at the outset for when they can expect the grant to be obtained.

Capital gains tax (CGT) is another key area that executors should bear in mind, as if there is a significant delay between the grant being issued and the house being sold, the property may have increased in value since the date of death, leaving the executors with a CGT liability.

Are you looking for a means of quickly and conveniently selling your probate property, with contracts exchanged in as little as 48 hours? If so, simply contact the team here at Probate Purchasers today by completing and submitting our brief online form.