If you are named as an executor in a will, you will have great responsibilities when it comes to sorting out the deceased’s estate, and this very often will include property.
It will fall to the executor to value the assets of the estate, pay off any debts, calculate and pay any inheritance tax (IHT) that is due – and distribute the estate in accordance with the will. Furthermore, unless the beneficiaries named in the will wish to have the deceased’s property transferred into their names, the executor will need to sell it.
Selling property as an executor is a slightly different process from usual, and on today’s blog we give tips that will help ensure that things run as smoothly as possible…
What is a Grant of Probate?
If the deceased’s property was owned in the sole name, when selling property as an executor, you will need to get what is known as a ‘Grant of Probate’, a legal document issued by the court which confirms the validity of the will and names the executor who has the legal authority to deal with the deceased’s assets. This includes the sale of any property, and being able to sign contracts on behalf of the estate.
An executor needs to be aware that obtaining a Grant of Probate can take potentially at least 12 weeks so this should be a consideration when looking to sell a property.
Get the property valued
As part of the process of applying for the Grant of Probate, you will need to get a valuation for the deceased’s property – or properties, and this should reflect the value of the property when the owner died, rather than the actual selling price.
Here at Bromley Property Company, we are sensitive to our probate clients at what can be an upsetting time, and make sure that we take great care in valuing the property correctly and that the sale is as smooth and efficient as possible.
Check the property’s title and deeds
Once you’ve got the ball rolling and had the property valued, you should check the property’s title, and this can be done through the Land Registry. A solicitor will then be able to check the title entries to see if there are any restrictions affecting the property which may need addressing before the property can be sold e.g. there could be an outstanding mortgage the executor is not aware of, or someone else might own a share of the property.
You must sell at the open market value
When you sell the property as an executor, you are under an obligation to sell for the open market value. If you sell for less than this, a beneficiary can look to you for the difference in value, so be aware of accepting a low offer on the property in order to gain a quick sale. While there is nothing to stop you putting the property on the market and accepting an offer before the Grant of Probate is issued, the Grant must be in place in order to exchange contracts.
Check that the property is ensured
Another task an executor needs to carry out is ensuring the property is properly insured.
Insurers can decide not to pay out on claims if the policy is still in the name of the person who has died, so an executor should call the insurer and ask them to amend the name. They should also inform the insurer if the house is now vacant, as most home insurance policies will not cover a property unoccupied for more than 30 days. Be aware that the insurer may not insure the contents once the homeowner has died because there’s a higher burglary risk with an empty property. It’s wise to remove valuables if possible from the home, but make sure you talk this through with any family members or beneficiaries before doing so to avoid upset.
Clear the property
An executor will need to remember to clear the deceased’s property of all their belongings before it is sold. This can be quite a long process, especially if the deceased lived there for a long period of time and there are a lot of possessions, so be sure to leave enough time for this.
Whilst being an executor and selling a probate property might appear stressful, many probate properties are in high demand and buyers are not easily put off due to renovation potential and/or reasonable prices.
If you want any advice when it comes to selling your probate property, then please contact us today, and we can also arrange a no-obligation valuation.