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Can You Sell A House Before Probate?

by Byrne Anderson
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Selling A House Before Probate Is Granted

The death of a close friend or relative can be a troubling time. A house left behind can act as a sad reminder of how life used to be. So, it’s perhaps no wonder that people often strive to sell the property of the deceased promptly. But as Probate usually takes a long time – often in excess of 14 weeks depending on department workload – is it possible to sell a house before Probate is granted? Let’s take a closer look at this issue.

Is Probate Always Needed to Sell a House?

When someone dies, Probate is often needed to legally handle the deceased’s estate, which typically includes property, money and possessions. But did you know that Probate is not always needed, especially when it comes to selling a property? It all depends on how the asset was owned. If the deceased was a joint tenant, meaning none of the joint tenants involved owned a specific share of the property, then the property is automatically transferred to the surviving joint tenant, meaning no probate is needed if it’s then sold. The surviving partner who appears on the title deeds can decide to sell the property whenever they’re ready, without legal intervention.

Things are more tricky, however, if the property owners were tenants in common, meaning each tenant owns a specific share of the property. This means that the deceased’s share will not automatically pass to the other tenant but will go to the person who is entitled to it according to the Will, or Rules of Intestacy if there’s no Will. This means that Probate will certainly be required. Speak to a Kent accountant for Probate services if you’re unsure how to proceed.

Probate is Needed, But Can I Still Try to Sell?

Although you will need Probate to exchange and complete, nothing is stopping you from listing the house on the market and accepting any offers, if you get them, before being given the Grant of Probate. However, you must be aware that selling a Probate property can create financial issues, as you will need to pay out Probate fees, Inheritance Tax (if the property value is over a certain threshold), maintenance costs and other expenses from your own pocket before you can even get Probate and claim the estate. There’s also no guarantee that there will be enough in the estate to cover these outgoings once you have been granted Probate. For this reason, it’s advisable to speak to Kent tax advisors before progressing with a house sale.

If you decide to wait until Probate has been granted before selling in order to get a clearer financial picture, you should move quickly as it could still take a while for the house to sell. By this point, it will probably feel like you’ve been waiting ages depending on how long it took for Probate to be granted but try to be patient. Unfortunately, Probate properties do tend to sell slower than regular properties, but luck might be on your side. Note that you have the responsibility of maintaining the property before and after Probate is granted. This might mean you have expenses if anything needs fixing.

Selling a house before Probate is not always easy, but it can be done in some circumstances.

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