Can you sell a house before probate?

Faced with the loss of a loved one, it is natural to be overwhelmed and under stressful circumstances and unaware whether you can sell your house before probate?

Whether you are an Executor or a beneficiary, you will have lots of questions such as “Can I sell my parents’ house before probate?” and “Can an Executor sell house before probate?”

You will need a Grant of Probate or a Letter of Administration to sell your inherited house.

If you have inherited a property with a mortgage, you will need to know that mortgage payments still need to be made to avoid the start of repossession proceedings.

Our guide simplifies the process of selling your inherited property.  There are a few formalities that make this process tricky.  If you are not careful, it can cost you thousands of pounds in professional fees by probate solicitors.

The good news is that with the right guidance, you can reduce the stress of selling an inherited property.  More importantly you’ll know what to do and when.

Our guide will answer the following questions:

Is probate needed to sell a house?

You can’t sell a property without probate.  Before you can legally sell your probate house, you will need to apply for a Grant of Probate.  This is a relatively straight forward process.  You can do it yourself and save yourself thousands in legal fees.

Probate is the legal process for dealing with financial affairs of the deceased including bank accounts, property and any other belongings.  Before the Executor can claim, transfer or sell any of deceased’s assets they will need a Grant of Probate.  This process gives an Executor legal authority to sell a property, pay taxes, probate bills and distribute the proceeds amongst beneficiaries.

If I am the only child, can I sell my deceased mothers house without probate?

Even if you are the only child, sole Executor and sole beneficiary you will still require a Grant of Probate in order to sell your parents’ house.

How long does it take to get the Grant of Probate?

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, we are experiencing up to two months for a Grant of Probate to be issued.  This is due to shortage of staff working in the office, people suffering with illness, a huge backlog of cases and staff working from home.

There is very little interaction as you are unable to chase for an update and simply have to wait for your turn.

The good news is that you can agree to sell property before probate to Property Saviour.  With our cash offer, we will be ready to buy your property once you get your Grant of Probate.  As soon as you can legally sell, the whole process can be concluded within two weeks.

The other bonus is that we will pay £1,500 towards your legal fees and a further £1,500 towards your probate bills such as utilities and council tax.  This can simply be added to our offer price.

Can Executors sell property before probate?

There is a common myth that Executors have superpowers allowing them to sell your house before probate.  This is simply not true.

When you’d like to sell the property of someone who has passed away, do you have to wait for a Grant of Probate?  The short answer is YES!

With no grant there’s nothing to clearly show the legal chain of ownership from the person who owned the property to the person who needs to sell it. This could be either the Executor, or when there is no Will, the Administrator. Until the grant is issued they have no authority to sell, and despite being clearly named as the Executor within the Will!

This should not stop you from marketing the house, instructing a RICS qualified valuer and solicitors on behalf of the estate, but until the grant is issued, they can’t effectively go into a contract to sell the house fast or complete the sale. Any solicitor acting for the purchasers of an “estate sale”, i.e. the sale of a home owned by someone who has died, would require a certified copy of the grant.

The same thing is applicable to renting the house or flat of someone who has died on a new tenancy. Whilst the Executor or Administrator can continue with an ongoing tenancy, prior to the grant is issued they have no power to bind the estate, therefore, cannot enter any legal obligations on its behalf.

What are the challenges of selling a house before probate?

Selling a probate property can be a huge task.  Let’s face it.  It is a one-off event that you need to be prepared for.  That is why we have broken down our guide to probate selling a property into an actionable list:

Is your inherited property at risk from theft, squatters and vandalism?

The indications are: an overgrown garden with peeling paintwork, an unattended probate property, and a lifetime of treasures. Someone dies and their property becomes a target for thieves, vandals or worst squatters.

You will not know, this but your empty house will not be fully insured after first 28 days of becoming empty!  You will need to buy an empty house insurance.  This could cost a few hundred pounds to thousands of pounds depending on property type and location.

There are certain conditions of a probate house insurance which involve maintaining the safety and condition of the property. To keep your inherited property safe and in good condition, follow our probate house maintenance tips.  Alternatively we can do this for you!

According to the English Housing Survey 2020-2021, property left to beneficiaries is the largest form of wealth inheritance.

Therefore, it is your duty to protect your inheritance by having a full peril empty home insurance.  It is best to speak to a specialist broker.  Be warned, an empty property insurance is not cheap and will require you to comply with several conditions including draining down the property, regular maintenance and attending the property once a week.

If your inherited property has been sitting empty for a while, you might only qualify for a restricted cover such as fire, lighting and aircraft hitting your property meaning that a theft damage will not be covered.  It is worth checking with your current insurance company.  

If you decide to sell your empty inherited house to Property Saviour, we will reimburse you in full for your insurance cover.  Just mention it during our call, and we will add it to our offer price.

How to apply for a Grant of Probate?

You can apply for a Grant of Probate yourself by clicking on this link to official UK government website.

Dealing with final demand letters of action from utility firms and mortgage company?

When you are looking to sell probate property, you will be faced with a number of statutory demands for payments.  These can include:

  1. Final demand letters for payment from utilities providers for gas, electricity, and water
  2. Intended court action from the local council for non-payment of council tax

Not all ‘We Buy Any House Companies’ are sympathetic when you are trying to sell a probate property.  You may have to pay the bills in order to get rid of constant letters landing on the door mat, as the very last resort!

Others will understand if you explain that you are selling a probate property and once probate is settled you will look to pay their bills.

Councils will often charge as much as 200% of rateable council tax value for an empty property therefore, it makes sense to sell a property quickly at a fair price.

Did you know?  We are able to quickly exchange contracts and release funds to you if you need to settle probate bills.  Please call us if you are thinking of selling without all the hassle. We can be reached on 0113 320 6700.  We buy across England, all types of properties in any condition.

How not to get carried away during the regular maintenance of your probate property?

Even an empty probate property requires regular maintenance. The main benefit is to deter burglars who prey on empty houses to steal the cooper pipes.  But how do you know you are not getting carried away during your regular maintenance and end up with a full-on house refurbishment on your hands?

It can become tricky to maintain and sell an empty probate property if you live at the other end of the country.  The good news is that we do buy any inherited property regardless of its condition.  It is better to sell it as it is than wait.  Once you have your Grant of Probate, the sale can be concluded within 7 to 10 days.

Here are our suggestions for maintenance of your empty probate property:

  1. If you live near the property, or there is a trustworthy friendly neighbour who can help you with this, then we strongly recommend pulling the blinds or curtains at night.  Turning on the lights and leaving a radio or television on can also give the impression of an occupied property.
  2. Ensure that the property has anti-snap locks.  If not, you need to upgrade them.  Standard locks leave the property vulnerable to thieves who can break in easily while the property is unoccupied.
  3. If you have a front or backdoor of a house made up entirely of glass or at least 50% of it is glass, consider replacing it with UPVC or a composite door. This is because this is an easy way in for thieves or squatters to smash the glass, and move into the property.
  4. Consider installing Ring or similar internet-enabled CCTV cameras or install an alarm that alerts you in real time.
  5. If you can, leave a car on the drive or ask a friendly to neighbour to park on your drive.  This will deter any potential thieves.
  6. Consider whether to turn off gas, electrics and water to the property.
  7. Check the ceilings for any signs of dampness or water ingress from the roof. We recommend checking the drains to ensure that they are not blocked with leaves or debris from the roof to ensure that you do not end up with rising damp in your walls.
  8.  Cut the grass regularly and cutting any trees or bushes – at least once a month in the summer months and potentially every two months in the winter.  This gives the probate property a ‘lived in’ feel and look. Speak to the neighbours as they can recommend a local gardener who can do this for you and send you the bill.
  9. Drain down the property as it can cause a flood in event of pipes bursting due to too hot or too cold weather! Water can escape through burst pipes in both summer and winter.  This will be an insurance requirement:

If you decide to sell your inherited house to us, we are happy to take care of all the maintenance issues on your behalf.  Contact us today for your free no obligation valuation.

Now that we have covered our tips to keep your unoccupied property in top condition, let’s talk about how not to get carried away with a full-on house refurbishment.  It is so easy and tempting to think you can install a new kitchen or a bathroom without considering whether you have the time, expertise, or the money to do it.

Whether you decide to upgrade and add modern touches to your probate property is a personal decision that depends on:

Selling your probate as it is for the best price

You could instruct an estate agent to sell your probate house.  However, the process could be a long-drawn affair with numerous viewings and potentially some low offers!  During this time, you could end up huge bills to pay.  Plus, you have fees to pay the estate agent.

This is why it pays to be dealing with a probate house buyer like Property Saviour.

If you are looking to sell your inherited property quickly, we can help. We are cash buyers and have funds at the ready. We can help with Grant of Probate or Letter of Administration and have money into your account within a couple of weeks.  We also pay £1,500 towards your legal fees.  We are here for you at this difficult time.

We will buy your probate house quickly for cash.  Benefits of selling your probate property to Property Saviour include:

Effectively you can relax after selling your probate property to us.  To get your free cash offer, click here.

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