While you have probably heard the term probate before and have a rough idea of what it means, the vast majority of us remain blissfully unaware of its intricacies until it’s too late. Knowing the ins and outs of probate up front can be of benefit to both buyers and sellers, so we thought it’d be a good idea to address the subject. Hopefully, reading this article will give you an idea of what you might expect should you ever become involved in dealing with probate property.
What exactly is probate?
Probate is the widely-used term for the legal process under which a deceased person’s estate is managed. Many estates will include property, usually the recently departed person’s home, so the term ‘probate property’ has come to be commonplace when handling such matters. The probate process does, however, involve far more than property but, as this is what we are here to talk about today, it’s what we are going to stick to throughout this article.
Selling a probate property
Naturally, selling a probate property can be a challenging time for those involved. Knowing what you need to do and having a plan of action will go a long way to lowering the stress associated with such periods in our lives. Therefore, it is well worth having a rough idea of the process, even if you are not currently going through it at present.
The first course of action is to determine whether or not you need to have a Grant of Probate (also referred to as Grant of Representation) in order to dispose of the property. For surviving wives, husbands or partners who wish to sell the property, homes can often be sold without a Grant of Probate providing the property was held in joint names. Checking the title deeds at the Land Registry will point you in the right direction as to which types of documentation you require. It will also give you an idea of what your next steps should be.
If you do, however, require a Grant of Probate to sell the property, it is vital to get the process of obtaining one underway as soon as possible. Having the document means that those given the responsibility of handling the deceased’s Will will have the required authority to sell the property and can sign any paperwork needed to complete the transaction.
Conveyancing delays are not uncommon due to the Grant of Probate not being obtained and the process of getting one can drag on, so it is always prudent to make this task the first one to tick off your list. A general rule of thumb is the more complicated the estate in question, the longer Grant of Probate will take to obtain. Prepare to wait anywhere between six to 12 weeks if the estate you are dealing with happens to be complex and taxable.
Once the Grant of Probate has been obtained, the process of disposing of the property can properly begin. Selling a probate property can involve a certain amount of forms and red tape that will need to be handled, either by the seller themselves or the executor of the Will. These will vary depending on the circumstances of the estate and the property in question.
Contrary to many people’s beliefs, the actual selling part of the process can be relatively painless. Sellers are advised to make the best of the property before putting it on the market if they are after a speedy sale, and simple things such as auctioning off unwanted furniture and cutting the lawn can make the world of difference.
While a property inheritance can be seen as a windfall, it’s important to remember that empty properties can quickly turn into liabilities rather than assets. Deciding on whether to sell or rent the property as soon as possible is often the wisest move in such situations. Remember, if a property remains empty for longer than 30 days, you may need to take out vacant property insurance, too.
Selling a probate property is part of a legal process, so you are strongly advised to seek professional help when handling such a sale. Emotions are likely to be running high at such a difficult time, so having a reputable solicitor on hand can be well worth the fees for this reason alone.
Buying a probate property
Purchasing a property under probate can be a great way for buyers to get their hands on a bargain, but you do need to do your due diligence to avoid any nasty surprises further down the line.
As you are buying from an estate, it is likely that you will be dealing with an executor rather than somebody who has lived in the property themselves. This means that you’ll have to do a little more digging and homework than you would ordinarily. Executors will only have a very limited knowledge of the property, and they may even have difficulty producing certain documents that would otherwise be easy to obtain.
Getting a building survey done when buying a probate property is a wise move, and you might even want to take things a step further by having additional checks done on the home’s central heating and electrical systems. It’s vital to keep in mind that the responsibility to unearth any problems lies squarely at the feet of the buyer, so it’s in your interest to go as deep as possible before agreeing to exchange contracts.
Whether you are buying or selling probate property, your choice of estate agent matters, too. As a family run business, Petty Son and Prestwich offer a personal service that simply cannot be replicated by more corporate agents. We understand your needs and requirements and we’re always just a phone call away should you need us.
If you are looking for an estate agent you can trust, call into one of our offices today for a chat. Alternatively, you can always get in touch with us using the details listed below: