When a person dies and their property needs to be sold, it's known as a probate sale. If you're the executor named in the will, then you'll be granted the legal right to administer their estate, which may include the sale of any property that the deceased owned. To proceed with the sale of a probate property you, as the executor, will require what's known as a Grant of Probate.
What is a Grant of Probate?
A Grant of Probate is a legal document that allows the Executor(s) of a Will to deal with the instructions of a deceased person, giving them the authority to deal with that person’s assets, for example selling a property that they owned.
This can also be done with a Grant of Letters of Administration. Letters of Administration is a similar document which is required when the deceased doesn’t leave a Will. A Letters of Administration is usually applied for by a husband/wife or civil partner, as well as children over the age of eighteen.
► You can find out more about the Rules of Intestacy by reading our blog "What are the Rules of Intestacy?".
What is a Letter of Administration in Probate?
Letters of Administration are issued, upon successful application to the Probate Registry, to the person(s) who are entitled under the rules of intestacy to administer the estate of a deceased person who has died without a will.
Is a Grant of Probate required to sell a property?
A Grant of Probate is required to sell a property, however, it isn’t required to put the property up for sale with an Estate Agents. Even though you can put the property up with an Estate Agent, the property cannot legally be sold until a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration has been granted. You are able to put the property up for sale, as well as receive and accept offers, but you cannot complete on the sale until a Grant has been received.
► Find out more about our Probate services here.
Why put a property up for sale before a Grant is received?
A lot of people put properties on the market before a Grant is received and this is because they want to get as much interest as they can on the property and ensure that they have a buyer lined up for when the Grant is received, which may lead to a quick sale. Getting the property on the market could also get a huge weight off your shoulders as this is usually the main asset of an estate.
What does the 'estate of a deceased person' mean?
Everything that is owned by a person who has died is known as their estate. Their estate can be made up of many things such as money, property, and possessions.
Can I put a property up for sale before a Grant is issued?
You may not realise but there are actually some downsides to putting a property up for sale before a Grant is received. These include:
- There is no guarantee of when a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration will be issued. You will be unable to complete on a sale without either a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration and receipt of this can take 12 weeks or longer.
- People viewing the property and making offers should be made aware that the property is waiting on a Grant of Probate for sale. This may discourage potential buyers when they are made aware of the period of time this can take as this will possibly hold up what is already a lengthy process.
- If the property is left on the market for a long period of time this can discourage buyers as it could be seen as there being a problem with the property. It could even potentially result in receiving low offers and possibly having to sell at a lower value if the property is getting less interest.
When the Grant is applied for, the value of the property must be declared. If the property sells for less than the market value then the Beneficiaries of the Estate can look at suing the Executor for the difference in the sale value and the market value.
- If a Grant of Probate isn’t received in a time frame that suits your buyer this may cause them to back out of the purchase.
- Waiting on a Grant of Probate may not be a problem for your buyer, but this could affect people further down the chain as they may not be willing to wait up to 12 weeks (and often longer) to sell their property or purchase a property. This could result in buyers and sellers pulling out of their transaction and breaking the chain, meaning for many the whole process may have to start again.
If buyers and sellers in the chain are not made aware of the need for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, then this could cause tension when they discover they are unable to complete on a purchase due to the Grant still being outstanding.
How long does it take for Grant of Probate to be issued?
According to www.gov.uk, Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration should be received "within 16 weeks of submitting your application". on occasions we've seen the return of the Grant within 12 weeks however executors must prepare for this process to take longer.
As you can see, there are quite a few reasons why you should not to put a property on the market before a Grant of Probate is received. It can make an already stressful process of selling a property even more stressful. A Solicitor will in most cases advise against putting a property on the market because there are many factors that can affect the length of time it takes for Probate to be granted.
However, it is entirely up to you if you wish to put a property up for sale before a Grant of Probate is received, but hopefully this has given you more of an insight as to why it might be better to wait.
► You can find out more about a Grant of Probate "What is Grant of Probate?".
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