If you are dealing with the estate of a loved one and it involves selling a property, one question running through your mind will be “How long does it take to sell a house through probate?”
The first thing you will need is to obtain a Grant of Probate before the sale can be completed. We take a look at the process involved, how long it might take and whether you can go ahead and market the property in the meantime.
At Lockings Solicitors, we help families deal with estate administration in the difficult time after a death. We are experienced probate solicitors with expertise in a wide range of situations, including complex and high-value estates.
We understand how daunting it can be to sell a home and you will find our lawyers to be sympathetic and approachable. As well as our legal expertise, we provide an outstanding service to our clients. We are always happy to talk matters through and answer any questions you may have.
We work proactively to ensure there are no avoidable delays and we will always keep you updated as to progress. We make sure our costs are clear from the outset so that you know exactly how much our services will be.
We offer a free initial chat so that you can raise any queries and discuss what your needs are. You can ring us on 01482 300 200, email us at email@example.com or fill in our Free Online Enquiry and we will call you back promptly.
You will need either a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration to sell a house. A Grant of Probate appoints the executors named in the deceased’s Will to deal with the estate administration.
If the deceased did not leave a Will, then one or more individuals will need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration. This will appoint them as the estate administrator. The application is usually made by someone entitled to inherit the deceased’s estate. Where there is no Will, this is decided by the Rules of Intestacy which set out in order of priority who will inherit, starting with the deceased’s spouse, if they have one, and their children.
The grant is the legal document which gives authority to the executor or administrator to wind up the estate and sell the deceased’s possessions, including their home.
The process of obtaining a Grant of Probate has several stages, as follows:
When someone dies, their death should be registered within five days. You can do this online or at a register office. If you use the online option, a registrar will call you to go through the details.
You will need to have certain details available, including:
There is no cost to register a death, but there is a charge for copies of the death certificate. All of the organisations where the deceased held assets will need to see a copy of the death certificate, so you may want to buy several, depending on how many organisations you need to notify.
Death certificates cost £11 each. The organisations will usually return the copy death certificate promptly once they have noted their records so you can reuse them several times.
The next step is to value the whole estate. This means finding out how much all of the deceased’s assets are worth and how much money is owed, for example, in unpaid tax, on credit cards or outstanding mortgage.
You can write to institutions such as banks and investment companies and ask for their valuation of the holding as at the date of death. You can value property by looking at the value of similar properties that have sold recently or by asking an estate agent for a probate valuation. This is different to a market appraisal.
If the deceased owned other valuable items such as a car, furniture, jewellery or art, these will also need to be valued. It is open to you to obtain a professional valuation of particularly valuable items or those which you cannot easily value yourself, such as paintings.
You also need to find out the value of any assets the deceased has gifted in the seven years before their death if these exceed the allowance of £3,000 per year.
Once you know how much the deceased estate is worth, you can calculate whether Inheritance Tax is payable. You will need to deduct any money owed by the estate from the value of the assets to
find the net value. If the net figure is more than £325,000, then Inheritance Tax is usually payable at the rate of 40% of the amount over £325,000.
An exception to this is when the deceased left everything above to their spouse or civil partner or to charity, in which case no Inheritance Tax is payable.
You can use the government’s online Inheritance Tax calculator to find out exactly how much is due. The calculation can be complex because there may be allowances that can be used and tax on some gifts may be payable on a sliding scale.
You should ask HM Revenue & Customs for an Inheritance Tax reference number at least three weeks before you intend making a payment and use this number on all correspondence with them.
Once you have established how much Inheritance Tax is due, you will need to fill in a number of forms and pay this sum to HM Revenue & Customs. The deceased’s bank will often be willing to pay this from their account.
Once you have sent the forms and payment, you can send off the application for the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration.
This is sent to the Probate Registry. HM Revenue & Customs will confirm to the Probate Registry that Inheritance Tax has been paid.
The length of time it will take to get probate depends on how long it takes to value the estate and how quickly things are processed at the Probate Registry. The official guidance is that they aim to process a properly drafted application within 16 weeks but unfortunately there are instances where it can drag on for far longer than that.
Our advice is to do everything you can to submit a properly drafted application which controls things as much as you can and then the rest is in the hands of the Probate Registry. If you are using our full probate service we aim to collect all the information in and submit the application to the probate Registry within 1-2 months of our instruction provided you come back to us promptly with everything we ask for. It is possible to make the application yourself but if you are doing this please make sure you check your application thoroughly against all the guidance (which can be a bit of a minefield for the uninitiated particularly at such a difficult time) to avoid the chance of it being delayed or rejected.
You can put the house on the market as soon as you wish, but you will not be able to complete the sale until you have the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration.
Conveyancing can take several months, so it is acceptable to start the process before the Grant has been issued. You may want to wait until the probate application has been submitted before you put the property on the market. This will reassure potential buyers that matters are in hand and also give you a good chance of having the Grant available or nearing that stage once they are ready to exchange contracts.
Taking into account the length of time taken to obtain the Grant as well as the time taken to go through the conveyancing process, it can takes more than six months to sell a house after someone has died and often up to a year.
Our probate and estate administration team can answer your questions and if you want, we can deal with the application for a Grant of Probate on your behalf.
We also offer probate conveyancing, so if you want a full service, we are able to provide that. We provide a clear estimate of the likely costs at the outset so that you know exactly how much our services will be. You can ring us for a FREE initial chat on 01482 300 200, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our contact form and we will call you back promptly. As well as helping local clients in Beverley, Hull and York, we also represent those with probate conveyancing from across East Yorkshire and beyond.
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