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09 Nov 2023

Wills & Probate

Can A House Be Sold Before Probate Is Granted?

It’s important to know when you can market and sell a house during the probate process.

Selling a house before probate is granted

Losing a loved one is an emotional and challenging time without the added stress of dealing with their estate. As part of the administration, the estate may need to go to Probate.

Understanding The Probate Process

What is probate? Probate is the legal document that allows the assets and liabilities of the estate to be dealt with.

The people administering the estate are known as personal representatives. In circumstances where there is a Will, they’re known as executors. 

When a person dies, all of their assets including any property will need to be valued and any tax due on the estate as well as debts will need to be paid before the assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries.

The administration of an estate can take several months to complete depending on the complexity of the estate as well as disputes that may arise as a result of the Will.

Can A House Be Sold Before Probate Is Granted?

It’s crucial to gain an understanding of when you can market and sell a house during the probate process.

In the majority of cases, no, it’s not possible to sell a house before you have obtained probate because you don’t have the legal authorisation to sell a property before probate has been granted.

That said, there are some exceptions to this, which include:

  • If a surviving spouse or partner jointly owns the property.
  • The deceased has created a trust that holds the property.

Although you can put the property in question on the market before probate is granted, in most cases, you can’t complete a sale.

Bearing this in mind, it’s important to inform the estate agents as well as your solicitors that at the time of placing the property on the market, probate has not been granted.

If you fail to let them know, this can hold up the sale of the property and can even result in the buyer(s) pulling out of the sale.

The estate administration process can be lengthy and complex, so it’s essential that you understand this when a property is part of the estate and needs to be sold. 

We recommend that you seek legal advice from a qualified probate solicitor to find out the next steps.

The Process of Estate Administration & The Sale Of A Property

The process of estate administration involves many steps. These steps include:

  1. Value the estate
  2. Pay any inheritance tax
  3. Obtain a Grant of Probate 
  4. Prepare the property and list it for sale 
  5. Accept an offer
  6. Exchange contracts 
  7. Complete the sale

1. Value The Estate

The personal representatives of the deceased individual are responsible for calculating the value of the estate.

Before you can value the deceased individual’s estate, you need to determine the things that they owned as well as their debts. 

Assets include ‘bank accounts, savings, pensions, property, household goods and personal items’.

Even if there is no inheritance tax to pay, you’ll need the value of the estate as part of the probate application process. 

2. Pay Any Inheritance Tax

As the personal representatives will be liable for any inheritance tax that is owed, seeking legal advice from a probate solicitor is essential. 

A solicitor will ensure that all available inheritance tax allowances have been given to the estate.

Once the necessary forms have been filed with HMRC and any inheritance tax that is due has been paid, you can apply for probate after you’ve valued the estate.

3. Obtain A Grant Of Probate 

After any tax has been paid, the personal representative can obtain a Grant of Probate.

A Grant of Probate grants the personal representative(s) the authority to sell any assets, such as property. 

Typically speaking, you’ll get probate within 16 weeks of submitting your application

4. Prepare The Property & List It For Sale 

The personal representatives are responsible for preparing the property for sale.

This might include making small repairs or major improvements that could contribute to increasing the value of the property. 

It’s also recommended that you appoint and instruct a solicitor to act on the sale, as they’ll handle the legal work to transfer a property title from the seller to the buyer.

Once you’ve found a solicitor, it’s recommended to work with a reputable estate agent to list the property for sale. 

5. Accept An Offer

The personal representatives might receive numerous offers for the same property, so you might not accept the first offer.

Once the personal representatives have received a suitable offer for the property, they can accept it on behalf of the estate.

6. Exchange Contracts 

After the buyer’s solicitor and the personal representative’s solicitor have agreed to the terms of the sale, they can exchange contracts.

This is when the sale becomes legally binding and the buyer is required to pay a deposit on the house. 

7. Complete The Sale

Once the legal requirements for the sale have been met, the sale of the property can be completed.

Following the sale, the remaining funds from the sale will be divided and distributed to the beneficiaries.

How We Can Help 

At Harding Evans, we recognise that losing a loved one is a difficult time so we aim to make the added complication of probate as straightforward and hassle-free as possible.

Our dedicated solicitors are probate experts and offer an initial 30-minute free consultation at either of our offices in South Wales.

Get in touch with our probate solicitors today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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