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Can you market a house before you’re granted probate?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

If you’re administering someone’s estate after they’ve died, then you may need to apply to the Probate Registry for either a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration in order to distribute and handle their estate.

This estate may include property which you will need to value as part of the probate process for inheritance tax purposes. But after valuing it, can you sell a house before Probate is granted?

Do You Need Probate to Sell a House?

When you can sell the property of someone who has died will largely depend on whether they owned property with someone else and how the property was owned.

If the property was owned with another person as joint tenants and that person has survived, they will be able to sell the property if they wish to without Probate, as the property passes to them under the rules of survivorship.

If the property was owned as tenants in common, then the property passes in accordance with the deceased’s Will or under the rules of intestacy and in this instance, it will depend on the circumstances as to whether Probate will be needed to deal with the deceased’s share of the property.

If someone dies and owns a property in their sole name, the property cannot be sold until the Probate Registry has issued a Grant in the name of the Personal Representatives.

In the meantime, the Personal Representatives can obtain a valuation for the property and, if they wish, put the house on the market before receiving the Grant. The question then is, should you do this, or is it better to wait until you receive the Grant?

The answer will depend very much on specific circumstances. Where an estate is quite complex, the best course of action may be to wait until a Grant is issued before putting the property on the market, as it may take some time before the Personal Representatives are in a position to even apply for the Grant.

In other situations, where the estate is relatively straightforward, and the Personal Representatives are looking to complete the process of administering the assets as quickly as possible, then marketing the house early may be the best option.

However, it would prudent for the Personal Representatives to inform any potential buyers that they are waiting for the Grant, because the property cannot be sold until the Grant has been issued, and they may risk losing potential buyers if they are not aware of the circumstances.

There is, therefore, a crucial difference between marketing a deceased person’s house and selling it when they die.

As we have established, you can value and put a property on the market before a Grant is applied for or issued, but you cannot complete the sale of it until after you receive the Grant. This means that exchange or completion cannot take place until the Grant is issued by the Probate Registry.

Why Legal Advice is Important?

Probate can be complex, and it can take time. The complexity of the estate and the length of time that it may take before being in a position to even apply for the Grant should be something that you should factor in when deciding when the right time is to market a deceased’s property.

Getting expert legal help and advice can make navigating your way through the Probate process easier. For more information, please contact us.