Date Published 07 September 2016
Firstly, the question we need to ask is if we need to obtain probate following the death of the homeowner before the property can be sold. Probate can be costly and you may not need to obtain it prior to a sale.
If a home is registered with the land registry (All land sold or re mortgaged since 1992 must be registered), a simple check on the title deeds can see who legally owns the property. This check can be done online by visiting the governments land registry website and for a few pounds downloading a copy of the Title Deeds.
If the property is in joint names and one of the owners is still alive then the property can be sold without obtaining the Grant of Probate.
There are two ways to jointly own a property; Tenant in Common or Joint Tenants. Most properties are owned as Joint Tenants. If a family members property is held as Tenants in Common and you will be able to check this on the title deeds it would be wise to speak to a solicitor for further clarification and advice.
If the property is in a sole name or the sole remaining owner has died, Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration are needed to sell the property.
A Grant of Probate will need to be obtained by the Executor named in the will. In cases where a will has not been written by the deceased, an Administrator will need to be appointed to handle the process in line with rules set out by the Government.
Prior to obtaining the Grant of Probate, a tax return will need to be completed and submitted to HMRC stating the amount of inheritance tax that is payable. It would be necessary to obtain a valuation from an estate agent as to how much the property or properties are worth. Tyler Estates can help you with this if need be.
The tax return must include all assets owned by the deceased.
Legally, you are entitled to market a property for sale prior to probate being granted, we would recommend this as there are other steps that can run alongside the probate process for instance the obtaining of searches, mortgage applications and surveys.
Once the grant of Probate has been granted, contracts can be exchanged and a completion date set. We would advise to apply for probate if it is needed as soon as possible as the process can, in some cases, be complicated.
Many families handle the process themselves, after all it is just a series of forms to complete, providing the forms are completed correctly and factually. Whilst others do not want the hassle and are happy to hand the process over to a local solicitor.