Where there’s a will, there’s a way

The death of a loved one can be a stressful time for anyone. As the executor of the deceased estate this can also add additional stress to your grieving, however if you have advice and support throughout the process, it can make it a whole lot simpler to deal with. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on selling a probate property, to help you take care of at least one of the big tasks you’ve been entrusted to organise.

Selling a probate property can often be a little trickier than a regular house sale, as the house does not belong to you. In the circumstance that you are the executor, but will not be inheriting the property, this can become even more complicated.

Here, our senior valuer Robert Stone explains how selling a probate property at auction can make the process more straightforward, achieving you a quick and definite sale.

Can you sell a probate property at auction?

More often than not, people wish to sell a probate property as quickly and efficiently as possible as they find this may help them through their grieving process. This is just one of the reasons that probate properties are particularly well-suited to sale by auction.

Selling through auction can create a quicker sale that is secured as soon as a winning bid is confirmed with the fall of the hammer. This means you won’t be mislead, and the buyer won’t be able to back out at the last minute, providing a definite sale. This is a particular comfort when you’re selling a probate property as it means all beneficiaries receive their share of the estate quickly, often with a very competitive sale price achieved.

Probate properties are often also in need of some work, refurbishing and modernising, in order to achieve a sale on the open market. When you sell at auction, you can reach a much wider range of potential buyers, including ones who are particularly interested in renovation project opportunities and vacant properties. Ultimately, the broader the range of potential buyers, the more likely it is that you will achieve the right price for the property.

A property auction can also make things a little easier for you as the executor too, as you have a responsibility to ensure the property is put up for sale and that all beneficiaries receive what they are owed. Not only is selling at auction fast, but it’s also a great way for you to prove that the sale process has been fair and transparent for all involved.

What is a probate property?

A ‘probate’ refers to the overall process of managing and delivering a deceased person’s estate, collecting the assets and distributing them according to the Will. If the deceased was a homeowner and the property will now be vacant (due to there being no living, shared owner) then the property will be part of this estate.

Typically, a property will be the most significant part of the estate, and if the beneficiaries who inherit this property do not wish to own it themselves, then they can opt for you as the executor to sell it on their behalf. In some circumstances you may be a beneficiary as well as the executor.

Regardless of whether you are or are not a beneficiary, as the executor, you would handle the sale of the property much as you would if it was your own, signing all of the required legal documentation.

What happens if there is more than one beneficiary, and they disagree on what should happen to the property?

Unfortunately, if there is more than one beneficiary, then the process of selling an inherited property can become tricky. For example, one beneficiary may wish to sell the house for a number of reasons. Perhaps in order to monetise their inheritance, or so that they do not need to pay for the costs and be responsible for the upkeep of the property – or both. In contrast, another beneficiary may wish to keep the asset. In this case, the beneficiary who wants to own the property would need to buy the other beneficiary out. If this isn’t possible, then both parties would need to settle the dispute in court.

However, it is important to note that it is ultimately the responsibility of the executor to ensure the estate is administered in accordance with the law, and as stated in the Will. If the decision to sell is made at a later date, then the now-owners can decide on when and how the property will be sold.

What is a grant of probate?

As the executor, in order for you to transfer or sell the deceased’s property, you will need a grant of probate. This is a certification form issued by the court to confirm that the Will is valid and provides you with the authority to administer the estate. It can take up to three months to obtain this grant, and so this can make the process of selling lengthier.

Can the property be sold before the probate is granted?

Waiting for a probate to be granted can be quite a long process, but the good news is you are able to begin marketing the property in the meantime. While this requires getting the timing right on the open market, with SDL Auctions we can help you get this right, and most of our properties are marketed for at least four weeks before being sold. This means that as you near the end of the waiting period, you can list the property for auction and by the time the probate has been granted, the property will already have been widely advertised, attracted interest and hopefully go on to sell quickly.

Think selling a probate property at auction could be the right option for you? Contact us for your free sales valuation today.