The short answer to this question is no, but we look at the reasons why not, what Probate actually is and some of the benefits and drawbacks of selling a house when Probate is needed.
Roughly one in 10 properties on the market in the UK is a Probate sale. This data came from a survey carried out by Move With Us estate agents in 2015. This means you have a very good chance of either being involved in a Probate sale or a Probate purchase.
A Grant of Representation (which is sometimes called a Grant of Probate) is an official document that is usually issued to the Executors of a Will or the closest family members if there is no Will, confirming their authority to administer the estate of someone who has died. The process of obtaining the Grant and using it to administer the estate is commonly referred to as Probate.
If there is a property in the estate, Probate will usually be needed before it can be sold. It won’t stop you from putting the property onto the market, but the Grant of Probate will be needed to complete the sale.
As part of the estate administration process you’ll need to get the property valued anyway as it forms part of the estate. The estate value is needed to calculate whether there is Inheritance Tax to pay, and for when you’re completing the Probate application.
Once you’ve received an offer on the property, you can exchange contracts if you’re an Executor in the Will, but the property sale cannot complete until the Grant of Probate has been provided to your Solicitor.
In this article, we are assuming that Probate is required, but if there is a surviving spouse, there may be no need for Probate. This really depends on how the property was owned. As a joint owner (also known as Joint Tenant), ownership will automatically transfer to the spouse outright and Probate will not be needed.
These days, many couples own their property as Tenants in Common rather than Joint Tenants, which can restrict the ability of the spouse to sell the property. Tenants in Common own their house in separate percentage shares, and what this means is if one owner of the property died, their share wouldn’t automatically pass to the survivor. People often do this to try and ensure their children receive the benefit from their share of the property. As a Tenant in Common, you may leave your share of the house in your Will to someone other than the surviving owner.
If you are a surviving Tenant in Common and you want to sell the property, getting advice from a professional will help you to make sure you are doing the right thing.
Co-op Legal Services can help you if you have a house to sell and you need help with Probate. We offer a complete Probate and Estate Administration service to take the stress out of the Probate process.
Contact us to make an appointment with one of our Probate Consultants who can meet with you at home (in England or Wales) to offer practical help and advice and provide you with a fixed price Probate quote.
Call our Probate team on 0330 606 9584 or contact us online and we will call you.