When selling a property left behind by a relative, probate is often involved. But what is it?
It’s 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 for probate, it’s advisable to do some preparations if a property is part of their estate.
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.
You will not be able to complete the sale of the property until probate has been granted.
Don’t worry if you’re still feeling unsure of things. This is where a good solicitor, allied to working with a reputable estate agent can be hugely beneficial and reduce any stresses you may have.
This can be a tremendously emotional and challenging time for you, with many things to remember and loose ends to tie up. It’s easy (and natural) to overlook certain things. Below we’ve listed five frequently overlooked things you need to pay some consideration to.
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.
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.
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.
Once probate is granted, selling to a family member may look 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.
There are many companies out there that promise to buy properties quickly for cash. And 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.
“Absolutely 1st class! I have bought and
sold 2 properties using David Clarke, and
have found them to be more than the usual
The staff are always very helpful, and keep me
up to speed with how things are progressing. I
would recommend them highly.”
Over the years that we’ve been helping people with their inheritance and probate sales, we’ve been asked a lot of questions.
You may find several of the answers over the next two pages useful.
A: 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.
A: 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.
A: The sale shouldn’t incur higher legal fees than an ordinary property sale. However, there are additional costs to consider, like insurance and
A: 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.
A: Yes. But you cannot legally complete on the sale until probate is granted.
“I have had dealings with Paul, David
and Teresa over the years and I have
always found them to be helpful and
accommodating to all of my request’s.
It is refreshing dealing with someone
who I feel actually values your custom.”
A: 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.
A: 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.
A: 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.
A: 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.
“From our first meeting to the final letter
of sale Paul Clarke and his staff have
been friendly, courteous, helpful and
They have always kept us informed
of progress using letters, e-mails and
I have no hesitation in reccommending
David Clarke Estate Agents to anyone
wanting to sell their home in the Herne
Below is a useful 11-point checklist to help you prepare for a sale.
If you have any questions about this checklist or guide, we’re here to help, so give us a call on 01227 362 248 – or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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