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HouseWorth
© GetAgent Limited 2024
  1. Blog
  2. Selling a house in probate
House selling tips
03 March 2023

Selling a house in probate

Fatima Bukhari
Writer & Researcher

Table of contents

  1. 1. What is probate?
  2. 2. What does it mean to sell a house in probate?
  3. 3. Do I have to sell a house after someone dies?
  4. 4. What is an executor?
  5. 5. What does it mean to sell a house in probate?
  6. 6. Can I sell a house before probate is granted?
  7. 7. How much inheritance tax do I need to pay?
  8. 8. Timeframe for executors to sell a house in the UK: What you need to know
  9. 9. Can executors sell without beneficiary approval?
  10. 10. Selling a house in probate
  11. 11. The cost of selling a house you’ve inherited
  12. 12. Preparing the property for sale
  13. 13. Conclusion: Follow legal guidelines for a swift sale

Dealing with the loss of someone close to you is incredibly difficult, especially with the added stress of selling a house. With the right guidance, knowledge and support you’ll be able to work through the legal and financial matters to ensure a smooth sailing process.

As much as it might be difficult, there are many steps you can take to help ease the task. For example, hiring an experienced estate agent, probate attorney and using government guidelines.

What is probate?

Probate essentially means the process of obtaining permission from the Court to deal with the estate of someone who has passed away.

What does it mean to sell a house in probate?

When a homeowner dies and leaves a property behind, the property may need to go through probate Court to determine the rightful heirs, and settle any debts or taxes owed. If you’ve been named the executor of the estate, you may need to sell the house in order to distribute the assets to the heirs.

Before you think about selling, it's important to note that the process of selling a house in probate is specific to each circumstance. Working with an experienced probate attorney and estate agent can help to ensure that you navigate through the process smoothly and legally.

Do I have to sell a house after someone dies?

No! You’re not required to sell a property after someone dies. However, if a deceased person owned the property and it’s going through probate, the property may need to be sold in order to pay off any debts and taxes owed. This will allow for the assets to be distributed to the rightful heirs.

Those named in the will have authority to transfer the home into their names. Therefore, the home will legally belong to whoever's name has been transferred onto the deed.

Once the person or group of people have transferred the home onto their names, they are free to do as they please. This can include, renting, selling, or even living in the property.

However, it’s important to note that if the property is part of an estate that's worth more than £325,000, you will need to pay inheritance tax.

What is an executor?

An executor is someone who is appointed in a will to carry out the wishes of the deceased person. If someone names you as an executor in their will, you’ll have many responsibilities and duties to take care of.

This can be a time-consuming role, especially when dealing with the emotional side of things. However, rest assured, with the right guidance and knowledge you will pass through this journey with success.

It’s important to be aware of your duties, as well as communicating with family members and other parties involved in the estate.

An executor is someone who is responsible for:

  1. Valuing the assets of the estate
  2. Paying off debts and liabilities
  3. Paying inheritance tax
  4. Dividing and distributing money and other assets
  5. Selling the property

The decision to sell the property initially relies on the executor of state, who must act in accordance with the instructions of the will and any legal requirements. It's necessary that you pay attention to all legal and financial details regarding the estate.

What does it mean to sell a house in probate?

When a person passes away and their home needs to be sold, this is known as a probate sale. As the executor named in the will, you will be authorised to legally manage the deceased person's estate.

The legal process may take a few weeks to complete, but once it does, you’ll receive probate and gain legal authority to sell the property.

For more information on the process, have a look at GOV.UK’s website where you can apply for probate.

Can I sell a house before probate is granted?

No, you can't sell a house before probate is granted. If the deceased person owned the property solely, you can’t sell it before you've been granted probate.

You can however put the home on the market straight away, but you need to wait until probate is granted to actually complete the sale.

It’s important to note that it can take 12 or more weeks until probate is officially granted.

It's best to seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in probate law to ensure that you follow the correct legal procedures.

How much inheritance tax do I need to pay?

The amount of inheritance tax you need to pay depends on the value of the estate. Currently, for the 2021/2022 tax year, the rate is 40% and is payable on the part of an estate that exceeds the nil-rate band threshold, which is currently £325,000.

Therefore, if the value of the estate is below £325,000, then you don't have to pay inheritance tax. However, the threshold increases if the estate is left to children or grandchildren, making it £500,000.

For example, if you left a home worth £550,000 for your children or grandchildren, no inheritance tax will be charged on the first £500,000. However, the remaining £50,000 will be charged 40% inheritance tax, giving a total of £20,000 in tax.

If 10% of the estate is left to charity, the inheritance tax rate can be reduced to 36%.

In cases where the estate value exceeds £325,000 but the entire estate is left to a spouse, civil partner, or charity, no inheritance tax will be applied.

Inheritance tax is due within six months of the estate owners death.

For more information check out our blog on inheritance tax!

Timeframe for executors to sell a house in the UK: What you need to know

It usually takes the executor to sell the property between 8-12 months. However, depending on the size of the estate, it can sometimes take up to two years or more to settle the estate.

It’s recommended that the executor should begin administering the estate within the first 12 months. This is typically known as the ‘Executor’s Year’, which is the period of time during which the executor of an estate is responsible for managing and distributing the assets of the estate.

The ‘Executor’s Year’ usually begins from the date of the deceased’s death and lasts for up to 12 months. This isn’t a legal requirement or deadline, but rather a guideline to complete the administration of the estate in a timely and efficient manner.

It's important to note that the executor may be held liable for any losses suffered due to delays or improper management. So, it's essential to seek professional advice and guidance to ensure that the estate is administered properly and in compliance with legal requirements.

Can executors sell without beneficiary approval?

Generally speaking, yes the executor has the legal authority to sell the property without the approval of the beneficiaries. However, the executor must act in the best interests of the estate and follow the terms of the will, or the intestacy rules if there is no will.

Although the executor has the ultimate authority to make decisions regarding the sale of the property, all beneficiaries will be notified of the intended sale to keep them informed.

It’s the responsibility of the executor to make certain the property is sold at its market value. In the event that the beneficiaries feel the house is sold under market value, they have the right to dispute the sale, and may seek the removal of the executor if they suspect any misconduct on their part.

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Selling a house in probate

As much as it might seem like a huge task, there are steps you can take for a smooth and victorious process.

These steps are :

  1. Hire an experienced estate agent: An experienced estate agent can offer guidance and support during the property sale process. They will strive to market your property to the highest standards while highlighting its best features.

  2. Hire an attorney: It’s recommended that you hire an attorney to help guide you through the probate process so that all legal requirements are met. The attorney can also help you with the sale of the property.

  3. Get a house valuation: It’s important to get a valuation of the property to determine its value. This will help you set a fair price for the property according to its market value, and make sure you aren't selling it for less than its worth. Estate agent valuations help to determine the value of a property as of the date when the owner passed away.

  4. Obtain court approval: Before you can sell the property, you’ll need to obtain court approval. This involves filing a petition with the probate court and providing all relevant documents, including the property appraisal.

  5. Accept an offer: Once you receive an offer on the property, you’ll need to notify the court and obtain approval to accept it.

The cost of selling a house you’ve inherited

The costs of selling an inherited house in the UK can vary depending on various factors.

Some of the costs to consider may include:

  1. Probate fees: If the estate requires probate, there will be a fee to apply for the grant of probate. The fee is currently £215 for estates valued at more than £5,000.

  2. Estate agent fees: If you decide to use an estate agent to sell the property, you will need to pay their fees. These fees can vary, but typically range from 1% to 3% of the sale price.

  3. Conveyancing fees: You will need a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal work of selling the property. Their fees will depend on the complexity of the sale, but typically range from £500 to £1,500.

  4. Capital gains tax: If the property has increased in value since the owner passed away, you may need to pay capital gains tax on any profit you make from the sale. The amount of tax you'll pay will depend on the value of the property and your personal tax circumstances.

  5. Repairs and renovations: Depending on the condition of the property, you may need to spend money on repairs or renovations to make it more attractive to potential buyers.

To find an experienced estate agent who will help you sell your probate property, have a look at our Free Online GetAgent Comparison Tool!

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Preparing the property for sale

Preparing a probate property for sale involves several key steps. These steps will guide you throughout the process, allowing you to have a successful and obstacle free sale.

The steps include:

  1. Obtain a grant of probate: Before you can sell the property, you need to obtain a grant of probate from the court. This is a legal document that confirms you have the legal authority to deal with the estate.

  2. Clear the property: Clear out all clutter and personal belongings of the deceased. You may need to hire a professional cleaner or removal service for this. Clearing the property will allow for potential buyers to envision themselves living in the property.

  3. Conduct repairs and maintenance: Make any necessary repairs, and keep the property well maintained. This may include fixing any structural issues, repainting, and repairing any lights or fixtures. This will help to offset any concerns buyers might have about the property and its overall condition.

  4. Highlight selling points: Highlight features such as an open and modern living space, a contemporary kitchen and bathrooms, a fireplace, an attic, and other features.

  5. Stage the property: Stage the property to make it more attractive to potential buyers. This may involve rearranging furniture, and keeping the space well lit.

  6. Keep the home clean and tidy: Do a deep clean and remove any unpleasant odours to make certain the house is spotless with a neutral odour.

  7. Market the property: Use a variety of marketing channels, including online listings, local newspapers, and estate agent networks to promote the property to any potential buyers. An estate agent will usually take care of this for you, which is why it's vital to choose the most experienced agent.

  8. Conduct Viewings: Organise and conduct viewings of the property to prospective buyers, highlighting the property's best features and answering any questions they may have.

  9. Finalise the Sale: Once a suitable buyer has been found, work with a solicitor or conveyancer to finalise the sale and transfer ownership of the property.

Selling a probate property can be a demanding task, especially when you’re the executor. However, don’t be too scared about the process, there are many guidelines to help you have a successful sale.

Hiring an experienced and efficient estate agent will take a lot of things off your plate. They will handle marketing and staging the property, finding its market value, and ensuring its viewed by all potential buyers.

By having these tasks taken care of by a professional, you'll be able to focus on other aspects of your sale and the probate process.

As much as it might seem difficult, you'll definitely be able to have a great sale by following advice from both government guidelines, estate agents and legal professionals.

Thinking about
selling your home?

Picking the right estate agent is vital for a successful sale. GetAgent makes choosing simple. Discover the best performing agents in your area.

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Thinking about
selling your home?

Picking the right estate agent is vital for a successful sale. GetAgent makes choosing simple. Discover the best performing agents in your area.

  • Free
  • Data-driven
  • No obligation

Ready to compare agents?

It takes 2 minutes. 100% free. No obligation.

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