Selling a house is, at the best of times, an exacting process, but when a house is being sold during probate, is it still possible to go ahead with that sale?
What Is Probate?
When someone dies, their possessions, including their house, must be disposed of in accordance with their wishes, or the law. But their house can still be valued, marketed and viewed by prospective buyers, although contracts cannot be exchanged or completed until probate has been granted.
Unless you have a good understanding of the legalities surrounding selling a house during probate, it would be a good decision to get expert information about probate, as it is not as straightforward as a regular house sale. It requires detailed knowledge of the law and inheritance tax.
Advice can be taken from estate agents, who will be able to offer estimates of the current market value of the house. In these cases it is always recommended to get at least three independent quotations in writing to be kept with the probate documentation. The estate agents must also be informed that the house is a probate property, so they can inform any prospective buyers that this may incur a delay when completing the sale.
This is the time to gather documents together. If the house belonged to a family member for example, they may have already indicated where their legal documents are kept. Some are retained for safe keeping with family solicitors for example, who of course will be able to give more information about probate and the legalities surrounding it.
Problems can arise when selling a house during probate, because there is more bureaucracy around the process. So completion could possibly take longer than with the usual house sale. There can be additional financial commitments such as probate fees and inheritance taxes. The house will need to be maintained in a good state of repair, and authorities notified such as the council and utility companies. Then the house will need to be cleared and prepared until it can be legally sold.
So the initial work of selling a house, from cleaning and clearing to valuations, viewings, and instructing a conveyancing firm, can be started during probate, but this is where the similarities end. The final exchange of contracts can only proceed, once probate has been granted.