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A guide to help selling a probate or inherited property

Since 1998 we’ve been serving the people of Leicester, and we have helped hundreds of clients sell probate or inherited properties. Our experience means we know just how emotional and draining this period can be for people. In many cases, you are not just selling bricks and mortar, but letting go of treasured memories and deep emotional bonds. We never forget that, and compassion and care are at the core of our service to people in this situation. Our aim is to help and guide you during these times and to become your support partner for the property’s sale.

Selling probate or inherited property can be a very complicated matter, depending on the size of the estate.

That’s why we’ve created this introduction to the process. The information we share is based on experience and does not constitute legal advice. We can, if necessary, introduce you to experienced and trustworthy solicitors who know the local property market.

In This Guide

A brief guide to probate

When selling a property left behind by a relative, probate is often involved. But what is it? 

Probate is the formal permission needed to deal with someone’s estate – basically their property, money and possessions – when they die.

If you are named in the deceased person’s will as an executor, you can apply for probate. But even if they didn’t leave a will, depending on your relationship to them, you can apply to become the administrator of the estate.

In most cases, you will need legal permission to sell their property, hence the need to apply for probate.

Before applying, it’s advisable to do some preparations if a property is part of their estate. A few early steps would be:

  • Estimate the value of the deceased’s assets.·
  • From a property perspective, it’s wise to get two or three valuations from respected local estate agents.·
  • Be clear of any valuation as this may have inheritance tax implications further down the line. We suggest contacting HMRC or a solicitor who can advise you professionally.

Applying for probate can take between four and eight weeks. However, you can market a property for sale during this time as you await the granting of probate.

Five things to consider

Letting Go
The sentimental value of a loved one’s items shouldn’t be underestimated. And that’s why the clearance of their belongings and furniture needs to be handled with care and consideration. Wherever possible (and after legal advice), it’s often best to gather the family together to see who wants what and what items can be removed by a clearance company or donated to charity shops.
Security and Maintenance
If you are applying for probate, the property could be vacant for months. This means the security of the home needs to be looked at. Maintenance can also be an issue. In the colder months, the heating and water system needs to be regularly checked. In warmer months, the outside of the property may need care, especially as many potential buyers will be put off online by photos of overgrown gardens or broken fences/gates.
Insurance Cover
This is often overlooked when a homeowner has died, and the property sits vacant. Ideally, contact your insurance company, explain the situation, and see what levels of cover are available. Most offer ‘vacant property insurance’, a necessary cost for any property left unoccupied for more than 30 days.
Keeping it in the Family
Once probate is granted, selling to a family member may seem like a relatively easy option. However, it can work out to be more complicated than a sale to a stranger. This is due to the need to agree on a suitable price, work to a timeline, and the emotions which are sometimes involved.
Quick Sale Caution
There are many companies out there that promise to buy properties quickly for cash. As attractive as a quick cash sale can sound during a testing period of your life, you and any other beneficiaries of the sale can end up thousands of pounds out of pocket. This is because the property hasn’t been professionally marketed, as it would be if you sold it through a reputable local estate agency.

Frequently Asked Questions

While we’ve seen some people handle a probate sale on their own, the vast majority contact a solicitor who is experienced in these matters to work on their behalf. That’s why we suggest contacting a local one who knows the area and the agencies that work within it.

Any agent can pluck a juicy looking figure out of the air. But be warned, proceed with caution when you encounter this approach. You need to think like a detective here and ensure any valuation is backed up with comparable evidence which shows similar properties in the area achieving the price suggested.

Successful sales leave clues behind, and the main indicator is that the property was valued correctly.

The sale shouldn’t incur higher legal fees than an ordinary property sale. However, there are additional costs to consider, like insurance and maintenance.

We will accompany all viewings as standard. And as a local estate agent, we will also regularly visit the property to check everything is ok with it. We can arrange for local tradespeople to carry out any maintenance and we work with trusted house clearance companies.

Yes. But you cannot legally complete on the sale until probate is granted.

We apply a different strategy to each property – because no two properties or sellers’ situations are the same. Fundamentally, we look at three core areas when we’ve been instructed to work for a client.

1) Location – Where the property is and the amenities, services, and environment around it.

2) Presentation – What condition is the property currently in and how could it be improved if necessary.

3) Process – As mentioned above, any agent can promise a price. What is far more beneficial to you is knowing the process your agent will follow to ensure the best price is achieved.

While an auction and cash buying companies may provide a faster route to a sale, it often means you could be missing out on thousands. As a trusted estate agent working as your support partner through this process, we will be on hand to guide you every step of the way. You’ll have access to our extensive network of local contacts, and our area knowledge and database of people looking to move means we’re very confident in achieving you the best possible price with the minimum of stress and disruption.

Although a fresh coat of paint never goes amiss, you might not need to spend as much as you think you do. Each property is different, but our general advice here would be to make the property as clean and obstruction-free as possible. We can recommend trusted local companies who handle house clearance, cleaning, maintenance and repairs. Gardens are increasingly in demand since the pandemic, so if your property has one, ensure the front and back areas are neat, tidy, and easy on the eye.

This is a complex area, and different properties fall under separate tax brackets. We suggest not going down the DIY Google route and instead speak to your accountant, solicitor, or qualified IHT adviser. This way, you can avoid any unexpected tax bills.

As with all the tips and pointers in this guide, the above doesn’t constitute legal advice. If you have any questions or things you’d like to discuss with us, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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