Need to sell a house during probate? This is the best place to start. We’ve put together all the basic information you need to understand the process.
What is probate?
When a person passes away, all the things in their name are left behind. This may include assets like cars, houses and bank accounts. But it can also include liabilities like debts. All these things make up what’s called an estate.
Probate is the process of managing the estate and transferring it to the beneficiaries. It’s not always necessary. But if the person who died owned valuable assets like a house, probate is required to legally access the estate.
Who can get probate?
Who gets legal authority over an estate during probate depends on many factors.
For one, if the deceased left a valid Will, they will have likely named an executor. This is the person they chose to oversee their estate and follow the instructions outlined in the Will. In this instance, the executor is the only person who can apply for a Grant of Probate.
If there isn’t a Will, probate will depend on the rules of intestacy. When a person dies without a Will, they are classed as an intestate person. So, the administering of their estate will follow UK law. Generally, a court will decide who will be given a Grant of Administration over the estate. This is usually a close relative or a solicitor.
What happens during probate?
Usually, people want their estate to pass on to the people they were close to when they die. Probate is the process of making this happen.
If there’s a valid Will, the instructions in it will be followed during the process. If there’s not a valid Will, the intestacy rules provide a legal guideline for probate.
The goal of probate in both instances is to transfer the estate to the rightful beneficiaries. But to get to this point several steps need to be taken.
Generally, this will include valuing the estate, selling assets, settling outstanding debts and taxes, and other legal requirements. Only then can the assets be distributed to inheritors.
Why sell a house during probate?
The house is almost always the most valuable asset an individual owns. But sadly many people have debts when they pass away, and selling the house is the easiest way to clear them. Selling the house is also a simple way to ensure beneficiaries get a fair share of the estate.
How to sell a house during probate
First and foremost, to sell a house during probate you will need legal authority to do so. This will mean getting a Grant of Probate or a Letter of Administration. Be aware that the probate process can be slow from start to finish. Getting approved is just one piece of the puzzle. Currently, GOV.UK suggests it can take up to 16 weeks to have a probate application accepted and it costs £273 to apply if the estate is valued over £5,000.
On average, the overall process is completed in 9 months. Many factors play a role in the length of the probate process, such as the size of the estate, whether there is a Will and disputes between beneficiaries. There’s a silver lining in the process being slow and that’s the fact you’ll have lots of time to maximise your chances of getting a good sale price. We’ll explain a bit more about that later.
Before you apply, get an up-to-date valuation of the property. It will give you an idea of how much money will be available to beneficiaries once any debts have been paid off and the house is sold. Don’t forget to also factor inheritance tax into the equation. Nobody likes paying taxes and, fortunately, it only applies to estates over a certain valuation threshold. This threshold will depend on your relation to the deceased. For inheriting spouses, it is lower than it is for inheriting children. That said, the standard tax rate is 40% of the value over the threshold.
Selling a house during probate can be complicated. That’s why it’s always smart to get advice from a solicitor and consider working with an estate agent that’s experienced with probate sales. Remember, everybody’s case is unique when it comes to selling a house during probate. Getting legal and expert help will help you smooth out the process at this potentially difficult time.
Prepare the property to be sold
It’s no secret that selling a house on the open market can be unpredictable and ponderous. Especially with the current downturn in the market due to high-interest rates and the cost of living crisis. So, don’t underestimate how many options you have for selling a probate property. The open market is a tried and tested way to get the highest price for a property. But if you’re after a quick and stress-free sale, consider using a cash house buyer in Nottingham.
Regardless of how you choose to sell your home, be aware that there will be some costs involved. You may have to pay capital gains tax, plus estate agent and solicitor fees if you sell on the open market. You may also have to spend money repairing or renovating the home, but sometimes this can be in your best interest as it may increase the property’s overall value.
How to get the best selling price
In Nottingham, houses in some areas and price ranges sell faster than in others. In 2023, houses valued over £1,000,000 sold the fastest, with an average selling time of 55 days. Outside of this bracket, houses in the £200,000-£300,000 and £300,000-£400,000 also sold fast, with average sell times of 82 days and 78 days respectively.
Sometimes factors outside of your immediate control will impact how easy it is for you to sell. But if you invest money in the short term on repairing and renovating the house, you can make the property home more attractive to potential buyers.
Staging is one way to do this. Simply work on accentuating the property’s best features. Part of this may involve repainting walls or removing and replacing furniture. It’s a good idea to make sure everything looks minimalistic and high-quality. It’s a must to take care of any repairs that were previously forgotten about.
Marketing your home is also essential to selling a probate property. For this you’ll need to price your home correctly and advertise it in suitable ways. Estate agents are masters at this, so it’s sometimes worth paying for their help. Nowadays of course there are other options like online estate agents who charge lower fees. If you’re up to the challenge, you can even sell it yourself.
Be aware that once it’s sold, you’ll still need to finish the probate process before monies can be distributed.
How to sell probate property in Nottingham:
- Value the estate, calculate inheritance tax, apply for probate and get court approval to sell the property.
- Once you’re approved, choose how you want to sell the property.
- If you’re going to sell on the open market, hire an estate agent or prepare to sell it yourself.
- Hire a solicitor to help you follow the legal guidelines of selling in probate.
- Market and stage the property.
- Accept an offer.
- After paying debts, divide the proceeds to beneficiaries according to the Will or intestacy laws.
It’s never easy losing someone you’re close to. Having legal authority over their estate and selling a probate property can be an added pressure. We hope this brief guide helped you to understand the basics. With expert advice and a free cash offer, We Buy Any Home will help the best we can. But don’t hesitate to work with a legal professional to guide you through your specific circumstances.