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How to get a House and its Contents Valued for Probate

24th May 2018

For free initial advice and guidance call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will help you.

Probate is the legal process that sometimes has to be followed when winding up someone’s affairs and distributing their money, assets and possessions after they die (known collectively as their Estate). Early on in the Probate process it will be necessary to calculate the total value of the deceased person’s Estate to establish whether Inheritance Tax will be payable.

Often, one of the biggest assets that a person will have is their home together with everything in it. So how do you calculate the value of a property and all of its contents for Probate?

Probate Property Valuation

How to Value a House and its Contents

The value of the deceased person’s property and possessions will need to be calculated based on their value on the date of the person’s death. The value placed on the contents of the house will need to be reflective of their realistic selling price on the open market at the time of death. This is also the case for the property itself.

How to Get a Probate Property Valuation

When calculating the value of a house, a flat or land for Probate, it’s important to consider a number of factors that could affect how much it’s worth. These might include any development opportunities on the land, repairs required to the property and recent sales of similar properties in the area.

You might expect that the best port of call for a property valuation would be local Estate Agents. However, if the Estate is liable for Inheritance Tax then it’s a good idea to obtain a valuation from Chartered Surveyor instead. A Surveyor will have the experience and knowledge required to provide a valuation specifically for Inheritance Tax purposes, so it can be more likely this valuation will be accepted by HMRC.

The property valuation is potentially subject to examination by the District Valuer Services (DVS) of HMRC to ensure that it is accurate. If they feel that the valuation is not correct, they will challenge this and request evidence to support the valuation given. If HMRC believes that the Executors of an Estate have been ‘negligent’ in how they have obtained the property valuation, then they could impose financial penalties on them. If an Executor finds that the valuation they have provided to HMRC is too low, they will need to write to HMRC to inform them of the correct value.

If the deceased person’s property was owned jointly with someone else as joint tenants, then the value of the property should normally be divided by two to calculate the true value owned by the deceased. If their home was owned jointly with someone else as tenants in common, then the value will need to be calculated based on the deceased person’s share in the property.

If the deceased person owned land or property which was shared with other people, the value of this will need to be divided by the number of owners. In this instance, once the value of the deceased person’s share has been calculated, 10% can usually be deducted from this amount.

Calculating the Value of the Contents

It can be difficult to know where to start when trying to work out the value of everything that someone kept in their home. Some treasured items which cost a lot of money when new may no longer hold much value, while other items might be worth more than you expect. Sadly, in many cases, the vast majority of the contents of a house will not hold any significant value.

The first step that you should take is to identify and list out any items that you think might hold value. Common items that are likely to hold value might include cars, jewellery or furniture. The internet can be an indispensable resource when trying to place a value on these items. The best approach is to research how much similar items are being sold for, taking into account how the age and condition compares. If there is expensive jewellery which is no longer fashionable then you might find that this is worth more as scrap than as jewellery. It’s a good idea to look into this if you suspect it to be the case.

It’s important to bear in mind that the amount that an item is valued at for insurance purposes will be reflective of its value when new. It’s likely, therefore, that older possessions will be worth less than their insured value for the purpose of Probate.

For more specialist items, such as antiques, valuable artwork or other collectibles it would be best to obtain a professional valuation from someone who specialises in items of this nature.

If you do not want to value the contents of the house yourself there are companies which can do this for you for a fee. Alternatively, if you believe that the contents of the house hold no value and you need to clear the house in preparation for it to be sold, then there are also house clearance companies which can provide this service.

Calculate the Value of the Estate

You will need to calculate the value of the Estate accurately if Inheritance Tax is likely to be payable. If the Estate is under £250,000 it’s usually sufficient to estimate its value.

You will need to calculate the ‘gross’ value of the taxable Estate. This includes all assets owned by the deceased as well as any gifts (either cash or items of substantial value) that they had given away in the 7 years before they died. There can be other matters that affect the taxable value of the estate as well, such as any trusts in which the deceased person had an interest.

The material possessions of the deceased person will need to be located and valued, this might include a house, furniture, jewellery, car and any valuable artwork or other collectibles. Other assets that will need to be considered might include money in bank accounts, pensions, investments, shares and life insurance.

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for getting Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excluding VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs*.

*We can also pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral, providing the Estate owns sufficient assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs.

To speak with a Co-op Probate Advisor call 03306069584 or contact us online and we will call you.

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