Sitting in the office, staring into the pixels on the computer screen this week, and the phone rings; a friend of mine is asking me for information on the process of selling a house once the owner has died, a not too close family member has just died and they were unsure of what they to do, what was being done ad in what order it was needed.
After exchanging kind words and offering any help I could, I filled him in on my interpretation of the process but wanted to be sure I was right. This is such a stressful and emotional time for any family and the thought of not giving the correct advice was very worrying for my. So I asked Clare Lawson at Ellis Jones Solicitors on Charminster Road to write a guest blog for me to ensure the correct details are given to both my friend, and any of you interested in knowing how it works. I am afraid it is one of those topics you don’t want to think about and aren’t really interested in the details because you don’t need to know them, but when you need to know them you’ll wish you knew before…
So this is what Clare wrote for me:
The Simple Way to Sell a Property after the Death of the Owner
One of the most daunting tasks after a loved one passes away is selling their property. Many people panic about paying Inheritance Tax and rush to put the property on the market before they have checked how they can legally sell the property. This means that they have to rush to gain legal authority which makes life unnecessarily difficult.
To sell the property you will need:
- A Death Certificate
- A Grant of Representation
One: Look for a Will.
The Executors (legal representatives) will be named in it. They are responsible for signing Estate Agent’s contracts, accepting offers and signing the Transfer Deed.
If there is no Will – you have to determine who should apply to be the Administrator by checking the Law on Intestacy. They are usually the spouse or a family member.
Two: Prove the Will.
A Grant of Representation is the document which gives the Executors/ Administrators the authority to sell the property (and access the deceased’s bank accounts etc).
You receive the Grant after applying for Probate (proving the Will).
- Listing all the deceased’s assets and liabilities and calculating their net Estate.
- Completing an Inheritance Tax Account and paying the tax due on the Free Estate
- Swearing an Oath as part of the application to the Probate Registry.
In order to determine whether Inheritance Tax is due you will need to carefully value the deceased’s assets as at the date of their death. It is a good idea to ask at least three Estate Agents to value the property so you can take an average value.
Three: Accept an Offer and get ready for Completion Day
Once you have the Grant the Executors/ Administrators are legally able to sign the Transfer Deed and so you can exchange contracts and complete the sale.
You need to arrange to collect mementoes from the property and clear it of all furniture that has not been agreed as part of the sale. You can hire clearance companies to assist you.
On completion day – you should take meter readings and forward the same to the utilities companies so that they can send you final accounts.
When should I put the property on the market?
You can begin marketing the property as soon as you know who is legally able to sell it. However, you may wish to seek the agent’s advice as to whether it should be professionally cleaned and cleared before you start viewings.
As some buyers are put off by Probate sales (everyone has heard a nightmare story about an Estate which took years to get Probate) it might be worth getting the application well under way – so that the agents can reassure buyers that Probate is not far off.
Clare is happy to discuss this topic, and any others that fall into the same category of Wills, Trusts and Probate, and can be contacted on 01202 057857 or email@example.com.
And I, as always, am happy to chat about the sale or lettings of a property or just the property market in general. You can get me on firstname.lastname@example.org