There are an estimated 24.7 million dwellings in England and counting, and the vast majority of those are owned by private individuals. Therefore it’s surprising that very little is written in the mainstream press about the act of selling a probate property.
One of Open Property Group’s core clients are family and friends who are involved in the probate process, and the journey is always full of queries. Here, our experts provide the answers to the most commonly asked probate property sale questions:
Q. There’s a will saying who the property should go to, do we still need probate?
A. Probate is the legal distribution of a deceased person’s assets and it works in tandem with a will, not in place of one. In some cases, however, probate can be avoided.
If a property was owned with another person as ‘joint tenants’, the deceased’s share of the property automatically passes on to the co-owner(s). If the property owners were ‘tenants in common’, the co-owner(s) doesn’t always inherit the deceased’s share of the property and careful scrutiny of the will is recommended.
Q. How quickly can we sell a probate property?
A. Once probate has granted the legal right to deal with someone’s estate – which could comprise bank accounts, cash, stocks and shares, as well as property – the executor(s) will work with a solicitor to examine the deceased’s affairs. A property can be sold as soon as the probate process is concluded and legal ownership transferred but bear in mind, this could take weeks, months or even years. When you sell to Open Property Group, we can start and conclude your sale typically within a 14 day period.
Q. How private can a probate sale be?
A. We know that probate sales can be sensitive and perhaps upsetting, therefore we offer the most discretionary sales service available. As a cash buyer, there is no need for an estate agent to be involved when selling to Open Property Group, which means no ‘for sale’ sign, no viewings and no marketing in the public domain.
Q. A property has been left to multiple people, what happens next?
A. Where there is more than one beneficiary, it will be a group decision as to what happens to the property. If everyone is in agreement, the property can be sold and any profit divided between the owners. This is often the fairest way to share the proceeds of an asset.
Q. I’ve been told we’ll have to sell the property to pay off the estate’s debt – is that right?
A. If the estate is in debt – perhaps loans, unpaid taxes and bills – any assets, including a property, will have to be sold to settle debts before what’s left is shared by the beneficiaries. There may be interest due on the debts, so talk to us if you need to sell property fast to avoid accruing more debt.
A sale may also be inevitable if there is still a mortgage on the property, unless a beneficiary wants to take on the debt. Don’t forget, mortgage repayments will continue to be due during the probate process, unless you make a special arrangement with the lender.
Q. Do I have to clear a probate property I want to sell?
A. If you’re getting ready to sell on the open market, it makes sense to clear surplus furniture and clutter from the property, as well as freshen up any areas that look tired or dated. Open Property Group realises this can be an emotional task, so we offer our clients the option to sell ‘as is’ with no clearing, maintenance or redecoration required. We also make cash offers for ‘problem properties’ – those that are unmodernised or in a poor state of repair.
Q. The probate property we need to sell has tenants in it – what happens next?
A. A successful open market sale hinges on a vacant property so you’ll need to start the eviction process as soon as legally possible, or wait for the current tenancy agreement to naturally end. If time isn’t on your side or you have zero knowledge of lettings, Open Property Group makes cash offers for all occupied buy-to-lets, even where there are sitting tenants.
Our quick sale guidance makes for excellent further reading but if you’d like to speak to the team in complete confidence, please get in touch.
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