Many Brits inherit property after a loved one passes away. Around *36% of the population believes it’s in line to inherit a property, but not many of them are aware of the process. This is where probate comes, and it plays a crucial role in passing a home on from the deceased to another family member. How does it work, and how long do you need to wait until you can sell your home after it’s granted? We’ve got the answers in this guide.
What is probate?
Probate may be an unfamiliar term if you’ve never before inherited the estate of someone who has passed away. It’s the legal process of distributing a person’s assets and property after they die, according to the instructions in their will. It may initially seem complicated, but the key aspects of probate include:
- Having the Will legally validated by the court
- Application for probate by the executor
- Timeframe dictated by the court process – usually 3 – 12 months
Essentially, probate exists to make sure a deceased person’s wishes are properly carried out and assets are managed correctly before being handed to beneficiaries. The court appoints estate administrators who gather paperwork, file tax returns, pay debts and finally distribute assets once approved to do so.
All this official terminology and legal language can seem overwhelming initially. But the goal of the probate process is to officially transfer assets from the person who passed away to their chosen beneficiaries.
What is an executor?
An executor is someone given the important responsibility of wrapping up a loved one’s affairs after they’ve passed away. Typically a spouse, child or close friend, will locate the will, gather up assets, settle any debts or taxes due and finally distribute whatever remains to the beneficiaries – all to honour the wishes of the deceased.
Do I need a solicitor for probate?
You may be wondering if you need to hire a solicitor to handle the probate process and property sale, or if you can manage it yourself. There’s no legal requirement to use a solicitor, and you can choose to act as the executor and handle probate personally.
However, using a solicitor is advisable if the estate is large or complex with lots of assets, debts and beneficiaries. They have extensive experience navigating court processes and legal paperwork that most individuals find confusing.
For example, applying for the grant of probate alone involves correctly filling out inheritance tax forms, submitting death certificates and proving the validity of the will. Mistakes can mean significant delays.
Solicitors will carry out most of the work for you and guide you through the rest, communicating with the probate registry, banks, utility companies, tax forms and property agents on your behalf. Their expertise and efficiency makes a world of difference in expediting the lengthy administration process at such a difficult time.
Though solicitors do charge fees, they may wind up saving inheritors money in the long run by avoiding costly mistakes. Consider the complexity of the estate and your capability to handle administrative tasks and paperwork correctly. Seeking professional guidance from a probate solicitor can relieve stress and ensure everything progresses properly.
Do I need to have the property valued before probate?
Before you apply for probate, it’s necessary to get the property valued, even if you’re not planning to sell the house. Since a house typically makes up most of an estate’s assets, its value plays a crucial role in the probate application. Additionally, this valuation is key in figuring out how much inheritance tax you’ll need to pay. And of course, if you plan to sell the property, you’ll need to know how much it can achieve on the sales market. You should use a RICs surveyor for an unbiased valuation.
Can I sell a house before probate is granted?
You won’t be able to complete the sale on your inherited home before probate is granted. You can, however, put the house on the market as long as probate is completed in time for the sale. Just remember that without a probate document, it’s impossible to complete the sale of the home. Therefore, you’re probably best of waiting until the document is granted before beginning the process of selling your home.
How long does probate take?
You may want to complete the sale of the property and find closure sooner than later. Unfortunately, probate administration can often be a lengthy process. The timeframes involved for different stages provides some clarity on what to anticipate:
- Applying for the grant of probate usually takes four to eight weeks from when the forms and documents are submitted to the court by a solicitor or executor.
- HMRC then reviews the submitted inheritance tax forms and issues the official Grant of Probate within two to three weeks if no queries or contests arise.
- Once this Probate Certificate is issued, the executor has the legal right to gather estate assets like properties, bank accounts and investments, and can settle any outstanding debts.
According to the UK government, you can expect the grant of probate within 16 weeks of submitting your application. It can, however, take longer if additional information is required. Knowing these estimated time periods enables you to set realistic expectations. Rest assured that solicitors will always aim to complete probate and a subsequent property sale as swiftly as feasible.
How long do I need to wait to sell my home after probate is granted?
You can sell your home as soon as you’re granted probate. There is no further waiting period, although you might wish to sell your home swiftly if you’ve had to wait for around 16 weeks for probate to be granted.
When going the traditional property sales route, it typically takes 2 months to find a buyer on Rightmove. And an additional 3 -6 months to complete a sale.
That means you’re looking at between 8.5 – 11.5 months in total, if you include waiting for probate.
There are aspects to consider, such as market conditions, property chains and mortgages. It can be a lengthy process, not to mention expensive, if you’re using an estate agent charging around 2% commission.
Are there other ways to sell my property after probate is granted?
If you’re looking for a quick sale, there are options, other than using an estate agent and placing the property on the sales market.
Auctioning a house can expedite the sale process after waiting for probate. However, auction houses charge fees and commissions, and you lose control over selecting the buyer or negotiating the final price. Auctions can earn you a fair market value, but possibly well below what private sales can yield with wise negotiations. Auctions to not guarantee a sale either. Weigh up how quickly you need closure with getting your best return.
Property Rescue offers a streamlined, efficient solution where you can sell your probate house property fast. The way it works is that we buy properties directly from you for cash. Our expertise in handling probate properties ensures a hassle-free experience, with quick, reliable transactions. We understand the complexities involved and provide personalised support, making the process smoother and less stressful. We can even exchange contracts within as little as 48 hours. The best part is that we can pay all the legal fees, so you don’t pay a penny.
Selling a house after probate
The decision is never easy when it comes to what you should do with an inherited property. But if you decide that selling is the best solution, there are options to help expedite a quick sale. Get a free, no-obligation quote from Property Rescue and learn how much we can buy your house for after probate is granted.