It’s not easy losing a loved one, and the trauma can be worsened by having to deal with their estate. It’s normal to want to have the whole process wrapped up as quickly as possible. That’s why many people ask if they can sell a house in Sheffield before probate. In this post, we’ll answer that question. And for those unfamiliar with the jargon relating to probate, we’ve put together all the basics you need to know in plain English.
What is probate?
The term probate can sometimes be confusing as it is used interchangeably to refer to both the process of probate and a grant of probate.
Put simply, the process of probate is to do with dealing with a deceased person’s estate. That includes everything from gathering up all their assets, settling liabilities and paying their rightful inheritors.
For this to happen, someone will need to get a grant of probate or letter of administration from the government. This is a document that gives them the legal authority to be in charge of the probate process.
Here in Sheffield, probate is legally required when an estate solely in the deceased person’s name has significant value. For example, if someone solely owns a house and they pass away, probate will be necessary for the house to be sold or given to someone else. If an estate is worth less than £10,000, probate is not required.
Who needs probate?
You will need to get a grant of probate if you’re named as the executor of a will. The executor is the person chosen to manage someone’s estate after their passing. You will only have the right to apply if you’re the executor.
The grant of probate will prove to banks, HM Land Registry and other institutions that you have legal authority over the estate. It will therefore be your responsibility to ensure people named in the will are given what they are entitled to.
To do this, assets will usually need to be sold or, in the case of pensions, life insurance, etc, claimed. Importantly, liabilities like debts or mortgage payments must be taken care of before beneficiaries can be paid. Depending on the size and contents of the estate, inheritance and capital gains tax may also apply.
As it stands, inheritance tax is 40% of value over the threshold of £325,000. For example, if an estate is worth £500,000, 40% of £175,000 will be taxed. There is some flexibility here, though. The threshold increases to £500,000 if an estate is passed to children or grandchildren.
What if someone dies without leaving a valid will?
If someone dies without a valid will, they will be classed as an intestate person. In this instance, the laws of intestacy will determine who has authority over their estate. Usually, it will be the closest living relative. This person will need to apply for a letter of administration. It acts much the same way as a grant of probate. In fact, the term grant of representation refers to both a letter of administration and a grant of probate. Whether you have a grant of probate or a letter of administration, you will have legal authority over an estate.
What happens during probate?
Probate is the process of transferring an estate to beneficiaries. We recommend working with a solicitor or probate specialist rather than trying to do it all yourself, especially if it’s a complex estate. Please be aware that the entire probate process usually lasts between 9 and 12 months. Here’s a basic outline of what’s involved in the process:
- Investigate if the person who died wrote a will.
- If they did, and you are named as the executor, you can apply for probate. If there’s no will, you may be able to apply for a letter of administration if you’re the closest living relative.
- Before applying, you must register the death, tally up the value of the whole estate and calculate any inheritance tax.
- Apply for a grant of probate or letter of administration with Gov.uk. Typically, you will need to provide a death certificate, a copy of the will, a tax form and a comprehensive list of the deceased’s assets and liabilities. This is in addition to filling out the application form.
- Wait for approval. If you’re successful, you will usually be granted probate within 16 weeks.
- Deal with the estate by cashing in on assets and settling liabilities. This stage usually lasts for 3 to 6 months.
- Distribute all proceeds to the beneficiaries per the will or intestacy laws.
Do you always need probate to sell a house?
You do not always need probate to sell a deceased person’s house in Sheffield. If you’re the joint owner of a house, you will not require probate and could therefore sell the house without it.
Can a house be sold before probate is granted in Sheffield?
If an estate requires probate, then no, a house cannot be sold before probate is granted in Sheffield. You can list the house on the market and even accept an offer, but you can’t finalise a sale until you have been granted probate.
How to sell a property during probate
Even at the best of times, selling a house can be a headache. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, it can be even more difficult. You may wish you could sell the house immediately, but this usually isn’t possible during probate. You need to prepare yourself for a potentially slow process.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to make it that bit easier to sell a house in Sheffield. For one, you can hire an experienced real estate agent to manage the sale. Keep in mind that you will have to pay fees when you hire them, and there’s no guarantee they will be able to secure a buyer.
You can also work with a probate specialist to guide you through the process so you never miss an essential step or make any mistakes. For smaller estates, you can give this a pass. For more complex estates, probate specialists are indispensable.
It’s also good to keep the beneficiaries in the loop. Be transparent with them about how the process is progressing. It will help you to avoid conflicts.
If you’ve got probate and you’d like to sell the house without any further delay, consider selling to a cash house buyer. It’s the easiest way possible to sell a house in these circumstances. With We Buy Any Home, you can get a free, no-obligation cash offer on the house. We openly admit that we can’t pay you the full market value. But what you miss out on financially you will gain in speed, peace of mind and the avoidance of stress. We can buy the house from you in as little as 7 days, and you won’t have to spend a penny during the process. If you’re curious about how we can help you, learn more about our Sheffield cash house buyers now.