While many people have heard of the term ‘probate’ before, the majority remain unaware of its complexities until they have sadly lost a loved one.
Probate property sales are difficult for many reasons. In short, the bereaved are forced to sell the property of a person who died who was likely to have been very dear to them, whilst dealing with the difficulties associated with inheritance tax, legal fees, confusing property jargon, and cleaning out the house.
To prepare you for a sale should you ever need to deal with a probate property, here are five key things you should know:
1. What is probate?
By definition, ‘probate’ is the legal process of sorting out somebody’s estate after they have died in accordance with their will — including their property, money, and possessions. In Scotland, this is called ‘confirmation’.
If you have been appointed the executor of a person’s will, you’ll be responsible for carrying out probate.
2. How do I obtain a grant of probate?
If you are responsible for a person’s probate, you may have to obtain a ‘Grant of Probate’ before being able to sell their home.
Before applying, you’ll need to assess the size of the estate. To do this, you will need to go through the papers of the deceased to calculate their assets and liabilities. You’ll also need to determine the value of the property, and whether it is liable for inheritance tax or not.
After assessing the size of the estate, you can complete a probate application form (PA1 form). You can find the legal document online, get a copy of from your nearest Probate Registry, or call the Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline.
This is the process for England and Wales. If you’re in Scotland, the process is very similar but is called a ‘Grant of Representation’.
3. How do I know if the property is liable for inheritance tax?
Any estate worth £325,000 or more may be liable for inheritance tax. At present, the rate of inheritance tax is 40% on anything above the £325,000 threshold.
Payment for inheritance tax is usually due six months after the person’s death, however, if there isn’t enough cash in their estate to cover this, it can be paid annually.
4. Do I need a solicitor?
If you have a good understanding of the property and want to keep costs down, you do not necessarily need to employ a solicitor.
Having said that, going through all the property’s paperwork and working out how much tax you need to pay can be a lengthy and demanding process – particularly if you are still grieving. For this reason, many people dealing with probate properties often opt to hire a solicitor, as it helps to reduce the amount of work and stress associated with selling the property.
5. How do I sell the house?
The sale of a probate property is the same as the sale of a normal property. First, arrange two-to-three valuations with an estate agent and carry out some research into the local area to decide how much you wish to price the property at.
If the house remains empty while it is on the market, it’s always sensible to check if a life insurance policy still covers the contents – and ensure that the house doesn’t feel too damp, or empty, when people are looking round by occasionally turning the heating or lights on.
If it is in your interest to sell the house very quickly, you can opt to sell the property through a Private Buying Company such as We Buy Any Home. We will provide you with an initial offer within 24 hours of contact – enabling completion on a house sale in as little as seven days. We will also pay the solicitor’s fees for the property sale, helping to keep legal fees down.