Guide to selling a house during probate: For homeowners

Introduction

Probate is a legal term that refers to the probate of an estate. When someone dies and leaves behind probate property, probate proceedings will be necessary in order for their assets to be distributed according to the person’s final wishes. Selling probate house can be a complicated process but it doesn’t have to be with this quick guide!

How does the probate process work?

It can take 12 weeks for the probate process to be completed. The legal process can drag out for longer periods of time when a more valuable property is concerned. 

If the deceased person has stated you as the next owner of their home you can fill out a probate application form or if they have no will the closest living relative can apply. The deceased person’s estate will have to go through a review to determine how much inheritance tax you will receive. 

You do not need to provide the original death certificate or similar official document, but you might need these as supporting documents when you see the deceased person’s bank for example.

After probate registration, you will need to wait to be accepted and documents issued. If the deceased’s property has specific instructions in the will for you to sell or keep the house you will need to keep them in mind and abide by those instructions.

Once you obtain probate you will be able to move on to selling your probate property. Your local estate agent will help with your probate property sale, this process can be relatively quick in some cases. You should get your property valued and receive legal advice on what to do with the deceased’s estate. Estate agents should be able to give you their own probate valuation to help speed up the probate sale. 

You may want to get a building survey to make sure there’s nothing wrong with the house that could scare away a potential buyer (or at least make it more difficult to sell or require remedial work to make it saleable). It is the responsibility of the buyer to make sure their properties are suitable so in some cases a full building survey is not necessary for the seller but might just be a matter of good practice.

What is probate property?

A probate property is a property that is in the estate of someone who dies and is passed on either through their will or when under the process of administration (where there is no will) in which case the property is claimed by relatives in accordance with the legislation. 

This can involve a lengthy process sometimes due to the conveyancing delays and sometimes the process of trying to sell the property can take a while before the property is finally sold. 

The person who has to sort and work out the transfer or disposal of the property is called the executor. It is the executor’s job to find a realtor. 

If the executor is not planning to keep the house (for example if the executor is the child of the deceased and therefore the beneficiary under the will) they should focus on getting a speedy sale and selling the house quickly to avoid the cost of utility bills and the maintenance costs of owning empty properties, which could reduce the overall value of the estate.

How does one sell a house under probate?

If you are interested in selling a probate property you will need title deeds and your grant of probate. 

A grant of probate can take several weeks to be sent from the probate registry and you will have to wait for its arrival before the probate house can be sold. You will need to settle your inheritance tax from the sale proceeds before you can pay out bequests to the beneficiaries. 

If you are selling a probate property you should see an estate agent for some advice. You should get rid of unwanted furniture and make sure the property remains well kept as it can affect potential buyers view on the house and be a deciding factor to complete the sale of the house. 

However, sometimes furniture is left in and some buyers like to see if there is anything else of value, such as art or furniture, in the deceased person’s property.

If the property is left unoccupied you may want to purchase some unoccupied or vacant property insurance for your probate property. If it’s a loved one that has passed on their estate to you you may be going through a difficult time, lots can go wrong before your probate property is sold so you may want to consider using Emerald Life to help you with unoccupied property insurance to avoid an unnecessary loss or burglary or accidental damage. 

Call us on 0330 113 7109 to speak to a member of our team to find some cover while you complete the selling of the estate or get a quote HERE

How long does it take to sell a deceased estate?

A probate property can be sold as soon as you have recieved your probate grant. An estate agent can value and put your property on the market potentially getting it sold within a few weeks, although a few months is more likely. 

The estate agent will work on your behalf to help with the dealings of the house, the current state of the market will dictate how fast you can sell the property.

When the executors are given the property they must dispose of it in accordance with the will. In some cases the will will dictate conditions the probate property will have to be kept in like having to sell or keep the house on trust. 

Buying a probate property has the same process as a normal property so providing all the paperwork is in order, including the grant of probate or letters of administration, then this should be almost like any other sale. Letters of administration are provided when there is no will. 

How long does it take to get a grant of probate?

A probate grant will give you legal authority over the property and is the first step in selling a probate property. The process can take around 12 weeks but can be longer depending on the value of the estate and any other relevant issues such as COVID-related delays.

How do I sell a property in probate?

As soon as the grant of probate has been received, the executors are able to put the relevant property on the market. 

If the house has been given to its executors then once it has been transferred to those executors/beneficiaries it’s their responsibility to pay any remaining mortgage if there is any. 

Dealing with a mortgage can be difficult so in some cases a conveyancing solicitor will be used to help with the legal aspects of while dealing with the probate home on your behalf to help find a sale. 

You will need required authority in order to sell the house like getting the grant of probate before you can exchange contracts to a potential buyer. The vast majority of people who recieve a grant of probate have limited knowledge on the field so its important to see a specialist for advice.

Conclusion

The sale of a probate property is complicated by the uncertainty of what will happen to it. 

There are so many unknowns in this process, and any one can lead to disaster if not handled correctly. For example, you may be unsure how much money was left in an estate after paying funeral expenses or taxes owed on the property’s value; there could also be disputes with family members about who should get custody of the home. 

To help protect your investment while keeping things simple for yourself, consider getting protection from possible liability through our Probate Home Insurance. We are an award winning insurer with comprehensive coverage. Give us a call today at 0330 133 7109 to get your quote today!

Regulatory

Emerald Life has its registered office in England and Wales and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FCA, firm reference number 945500 on the financial services register.

It is registered as a limited company registered in England in Companies House with registered number available there and is directly regulated and authorised given its registered address and registered office in England.

Companies authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority can be found at the Financial Conduct Authority’s website – fca.org.uk.