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Difficulty of Selling a House After the Death of a Parent

Property Saviour » Inherited Property » Difficulty of Selling a House After the Death of a Parent

Losing a parent is one of life’s most difficult experiences. Amidst the grief and emotional turmoil, many find themselves tasked with the responsibility of selling their parent’s house. As someone who recently went through this process myself, I understand how overwhelming it can be.

In this guide, I aim to provide a comprehensive overview of what to expect and offer helpful tips based on my experience.

Table of Contents

The Emotional Journey

Before looking into the practicalities, it’s important to acknowledge the emotional challenges of selling a parent’s home. This house is more than just bricks and mortar; it’s a treasure trove of memories.

I remember spending countless hours sorting through old photos, toys from my childhood, and mementoes from family holidays. It’s a bittersweet process – on one hand, it’s lovely to reminisce, but it can also be incredibly painful. My advice would be to take your time.

There’s no need to rush into clearing the house or putting it on the market. Give yourself space to grieve and process your emotions. It can be helpful to involve siblings or other family members in this process so you can support each other.

Probate and Legal Matters

One of the first steps in selling a parent’s inherited house is to obtain a Grant of Probate. This legal document confirms your authority to deal with your parent’s estate. If your parent left a will naming you as the executor, you must apply for probate.

If there’s no will, the process is slightly different and is known as obtaining ‘letters of administration’.

While going through this, I found it helpful to hire a solicitor who specialised in probate. They guided me through the paperwork and legal jargon, which was a huge weight off my shoulders.

It’s worth noting that probate can take several months, so it’s best to start the process as soon as possible.

Dealing with Possessions and Memories

One of the hardest parts of selling a parent’s house is dealing with their possessions. Deciding what to keep, what to give away, and what to sell can be an emotional process.

It can be risky to alienate other beneficiaries if you start to empty a house before probate.  I found it helpful to involve my siblings in making decisions together.

We each chose a few special items to keep as mementos. We then offered furniture and other items to family and friends before donating the rest to charity. For sentimental items like photos and letters, we divided them up so we each had a collection of memories.

Here at Property Saviour, we offer a free house clearance should you sell your house to us.  Just remove all valuable items and leave us the rest to donate and dispose of.

Preparing the House for Sale

Once you have the legal authority to sell the property, you’ll need to start thinking about getting it ready for the market. This can involve clearing out possessions, making repairs, and potentially redecorating.

When clearing the house, I found it useful to categorise items into ‘keep’, ‘donate’, and ‘dispose’. It’s also a good idea to check for any important documents, like property deeds or utility bills.

In terms of repairs and redecorating, it’s worth considering whether any work will add value to the property or make it more appealing to potential buyers. I decided to give the house a fresh coat of paint and replace some old carpets, but I didn’t go overboard with renovations. Remember, you’re not obligated to make major improvements – the house can be sold ‘as is’.

Valuing the Property

You’ll need to get a valuation before putting the house on the market. I obtained valuations from three different estate agents to get a balanced view.

It’s important to be realistic about the price—overvaluing can cause the property to sit on the market for a long time.

As part of the probate process, you’ll also need to get a formal valuation for inheritance tax purposes. I used a local surveyor who was accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) for this.

Choosing an Estate Agent

When it comes to selling, you can choose to use an estate agent or sell privately. I opted to use an estate agent as I wanted the support and expertise they could offer.

Look for an agent with experience selling probate properties and who you feel comfortable working with. I interviewed a few different agents before making my decision.

I wanted someone who was not only knowledgeable about the local market but also empathetic to my situation. The agent I chose was patient, understanding, and kept me informed at every stage of the process.

Taking Care of Yourself

While selling your parent’s house, it’s important to take care of your own well-being.

Grief can be all-consuming, and the added stress of dealing with a property sale can be overwhelming. Be kind to yourself and accept that there will be good and bad days.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that’s from family, friends, or professionals like bereavement counsellors. I found that talking about my feelings and sharing memories of my parent was a great comfort.

You could say that I was well prepared because of my day job helping executors sell their inherited homes. However, nothing can prepare you for experiencing loss and grief and then dealing with asset disposal.

Process of selling a house in a trust after death

If a deceased person’s property is owned in a trust, the process for selling it in the UK typically involves the following steps:

 

1. Identify the Trustees: The first step is to identify the trust’s trustees. The trustees are legally responsible for managing the trust assets, including the property.

2. Review the Trust Deed: The trustees must review the trust deed, which is the legal document that established the trust. The trust deed will outline the trustees’ powers and responsibilities, including any specific provisions related to selling trust property.

3. Obtain Consent: Depending on the terms of the trust deed, the trustees may need to obtain consent from the beneficiaries or the court before selling the property. Some trust deeds grant trustees the power to sell without consent, while others require it.

4. Probate: If the deceased was a trustee or had a life interest in the property, the trustees may need to obtain a Grant of Probate before they can deal with the property. This grants them the legal authority to administer the deceased’s estate.

5. Valuation and Marketing: The trustees should arrange for a professional valuation of the property and then market it for sale, either through an estate agent, at auction or sell it privately.

6. Sale Process: Once a buyer is found, the trustees will negotiate the sale, exchange contracts, and complete the transaction on behalf of the trust.

7. Distribution of Proceeds: After the sale, the trustees must distribute the net proceeds from the sale in accordance with the terms of the trust deed. This may involve paying the proceeds to the beneficiaries or reinvesting the money within the trust.

Selling a house after death of a parent
Here at Property Saviour, we help Executors fast track their probate application when they agree to sell to us.

Tax Implications

It’s important to be aware of the tax implications of selling an inherited property. If the property has increased in value since your parent passed away, you may need to pay Capital Gains Tax on the profit.

There are some exceptions and allowances, so it’s best to seek advice from a tax professional. You may also need to pay Inheritance Tax, depending on the value of your parent’s estate. The threshold for Inheritance Tax is currently £325,000. Anything above this may be taxed at 40%. Again, there are some exceptions, particularly if the estate is left to a spouse or civil partner.

When selling a property inherited from a parent, you may need to consider Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and Stamp Duty. These taxes can significantly impact the sale proceeds, so it’s crucial to understand your obligations.

TaxExplanation
Capital Gains TaxIf the property’s value has increased since your parent acquired it, you may need to pay CGT on the gain. However, there are reliefs and exemptions available.
Stamp DutyIf you decide to keep the property, you may need to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax when transferring ownership to your name.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT)

  • CGT is payable if the property is sold for more than its probate value (market value at the time of inheritance).
  • There is no CGT to pay if the property is transferred directly to a beneficiary without being sold.
  • If the executors sell the property before transferring it to beneficiaries, the estate’s annual CGT exemption can be utilized for the tax year of death and the following two years.
  • Siblings inheriting a property can spread the gains between themselves to take advantage of multiple annual CGT exemptions.


As per the Autumn Statement 2022, the CGT annual exempt amount has been significantly reduced:

  1. For the 2023/24 tax year, the CGT annual exempt amount is £6,000.
  2. From the 2024/25 tax year onwards, it will be further reduced to £3,000.
  3. This is a drastic reduction from the previous £12,300 allowance for the 2022/23 tax year.
  4. The reduction means that more individuals will likely have to report and pay CGT on their gains above the new lower thresholds of £6,000 (2023/24) and £3,000 (from 2024/25 onwards).
  5. Even relatively small gains from selling assets like shares, second homes or rental properties could now potentially be subject to CGT for many more people.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

SDLT is not payable when inheriting a property through a will, as no money changes hands.  However, if you decide to keep the inherited property and transfer it into your name, you may need to pay SDLT.

The SDLT rates depend on the property value and whether it will be your main residence or an additional property.

  • For properties valued under £250,000 and becoming your main residence, no SDLT is payable.
  • For additional properties (second homes), SDLT is payable even on values above £40,000, with higher rates applying.
  • It’s important to note that, depending on individual circumstances, there are exemptions and reliefs available for both CGT and SDLT. For example, if the inherited property was the deceased’s main residence, certain CGT reliefs may apply.
  • Transfers between spouses or civil partners are generally exempt from SDLT.

Final Thoughts

Selling a house after the death of a parent is a challenging journey, both practically and emotionally. It’s a process that requires patience, resilience, and support. I hope that by sharing my experience and the lessons I learned, I can offer some guidance and reassurance to others going through this difficult time.

Why not take some time off and spend your inheritance on a well-deserved holiday or a weekend break?

Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to navigate this process. Take your time, be kind to yourself, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when needed. Amidst the sadness and difficulty, there can also be moments of joy and celebration as you honour your parent’s memory and legacy.

The Property Saviour Solution

At Property Saviour, we understand the emotional and logistical challenges of selling a house after a parent’s death. That’s why we offer a hassle-free solution: we’ll buy your inherited property quickly, for cash, within 10 days or on a timeline that suits you.

  • No estate agents or property valuations
  • No surveys or hidden fees
  • We honour the agreed price, no last-minute changes
  • We pay at least £1,500 towards your legal fees
  • We can help expedite the Grant of Probate process

 

Don’t let the stress of selling your parent’s house compound your grief. Contact Property Saviour today, and let us take this burden off your shoulders.

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