How to Sell a Probate Property

When a loved one passes away, managing their estate, including selling a property, can be a daunting task.

In this guide, we will cover the basics of probate selling and legal requirements regarding getting the right documentation, getting help from solicitors with inheritance distribution, and taxation and the best solutions to sell the property. 

By the end of this article, you should clearly understand how the probate process works and how Fast Cash Houses can help.

 Understanding Probate

Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is distributed to heirs and designated beneficiaries and any debts are paid off. 

It involves validating the deceased’s will (if one exists) and granting the executor the authority to manage the estate’s affairs which include all the assets such as any property and liabilities of the deceased.

Getting a probate falls under the executor’s responsibilities and it is mandatory to complete the sale. 

The Role of an Executor in Probate

When it comes to selling a probate property, the executor will have to fulfil several responsibilities such as:

  • Valuing the estate 
  • Paying off any outstanding debts
  • Inheritance tax
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries. 

The executor has 12 months – a period called the “executor’s year” to begin the distribution of the estate and organise all aspects of the selling process. 

While the executor can sell the property without the approval of any other beneficiaries, it is important to sell the house for the correct market value otherwise, the executor risks being removed from the will and sued for the difference of the value.

If the estate is particularly complex due to the type of property or circumstances related to the deceased owner e.g. debts, you should consider hiring a probate solicitor who can provide guidance and support throughout the estate administration and property sale process.

Selling a property before probate is granted is not usually possible since it is a mandatory legal requirement to sell the property before contracts between buyer and seller can be exchanged. 

However, marketing the property and preparing for the sale can commence beforehand. 

Can a House Be Sold Before Probate is Granted?

If you decide to initiate the property marketing and listing before obtaining the grant of probate, you must inform the buyer and any agents involved promptly to manage the expectations of all parties involved. 

 What Documents Do I Need To Apply For A Grant Of Probate?

Below, you can find a summary of the necessary documents to apply for the grant of probate: 

  • Inheritance tax form
  • PA1P or PA1A form
  • Bank, credit card statements 
  • Any investing/savings information
  • Documents regarding any outstanding bills and debts
  • Death certificate
  • Funeral expenses
  • IDs and national insurance number of the deceased
  • Mortgage details
  • Original will and copies of it
  • Property deeds
  • Pension information

Probate Selling Process

As mentioned above, the executor in charge of selling the probate property will have to follow eight key steps:

  1. Valuing the Estate:

Determine the total value of the deceased’s estate, including the property. 

An accurate valuation is crucial for inheritance tax purposes and should reflect the property’s value at the owner’s death. 

  1. Paying any Inheritance Tax Due: 

To obtain the grant of probate, you must first settle any inheritance tax with HM Revenue and Customs. 

The inheritance tax is to be paid by the executor within 6 months of the estate owner’s death. 

As of 2024, HMRC recommends that inheritance tax must be paid at a rate of 40% on the estate’s value over a £325,000 threshold. 

Applying for the Grant of Probate: 

After obtaining a property valuation and settling any inheritance tax payments, you need to apply for the grant of probate which is a legal authorization from the probate court for the executor to manage the estate. 

It is important to note that whilst you can market and initiate the selling process without the grant of probate, no sale can be finalised without it.

Preparing the Property for Sale: 

The executor is responsible for getting the property ready for sale which includes getting it insured, emptying it and/or conducting any refurbishing works to enhance its value and speed up the selling process. 

While getting the property ready, make sure to contact all relevant parties, beyond the will beneficiaries, such as banks, utility providers, creditors, insurance companies and local authorities to inform them about the passing of the deceased person.

Listing the Property for Sale: 

The method you decide to use to sell your probate property will mostly be affected by the current state of the property and how quickly you need to make the sale. 

Estate Agents can help with the selling process, however, they may not be the fastest or cheapest method due to their listing fees and commissions on the final price of the sale. 

If the property to sell is old and or in need of major refurbishing, like it’s often the case with old properties, the sale could be harder to make even for estate agents. 

If that’s your case, you may want to consider selling the property at auction or using a cash-buying company like Fast Cash Houses which can guarantee an offer quickly and pay in cash. 

Accepting an Offer: 

As mentioned earlier in this article, you can market the property and agree on an offer price before obtaining the grant of probate. 

However, you need to make sure to inform the buyer and estate agents if this is the case as the sale cannot be finalised without it. 

This will also help to provide realistic timescales for both parties since it can take up to 12 weeks to obtain the grant of probate. 

In addition to this, any offer accepted has to be in line with the market value of the property. 

If you try to sell the property below its market value, you can risk being sued by the other beneficiaries for the difference in value.

Exchanging Contracts:

Once an offer is accepted and the terms have been agreed on by the seller’s and buyer’s solicitors respectively, contracts can be exchanged making the sale legally binding. 

It is only at this stage that the buyer will be required to pay a deposit.

Completing the Sale: 

If the sale price exceeds the probate valuation, capital gains tax may be due. The tax amount depends on the sale price, the original valuation, and associated selling costs. 

HMRC provides a Capital Gains Tax calculator to help determine any tax owed, with a tax-free allowance of £12,300 per year. 

After settling any legal expenses and other debts like unpaid mortgages, the remaining funds from the sale of the property will be distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will (if any). 

Is It Easy To Sell A Probate Home?

Aside from the legal complexities and timescales associated with getting the right documents, and repaying debts and mortgage applications, probate properties could be harder to sell as they are often old and need repair, bearing extra financial costs for the potential buyer. 

Some of the issues may come under attention only after the sale process has been initiated causing the sale to fall through. 

Depending on the individual circumstances and state of the property, the easiest solution may be to sell the property through an auction to a property cash buyer like Fast Cash Houses.

Tips for Selling a Probate Property

To summarise, below are some key tips to speed up the sale of your probate property:

  • Apply for the grant of probate as soon as possible after gathering all the necessary documentation
  • Consider investing in a solicitor to simplify the process
  • Keep all beneficiaries informed
  • Value the property for its correct market value
  • Pay inheritance tax and settle any outstanding debts
  • Get the property ready: clean it, empty it, insure it and repair it as needed
  • Don’t go overboard with repairs and refurbishing to avoid paying extra capital gains tax after the sale
  • List the property through the best outlet for your type of property, budget and speed requirements e.g. estate agents, auctions or cash buyers
  • Accept the offer and complete the sale
  • Settle any debts and capital gain taxation
  • Distribute funds to the beneficiaries

How can Fast Cash Houses Help

Selling a probate property is a complex process that requires understanding complex legal procedures, managing logistical challenges, and making informed decisions while dealing with high emotions and at times, conflicting interests. 

If possible, always use the advice of a solicitor and fully evaluate your circumstances when choosing the best way to sell your property. 

A provider like Fast Cash Houses can be the right answer for anyone looking to sell fast and hassle-free. 

Contact us now if you require urgent help or find out more about how we can help sell your probate property.