Wednesday 18th February 2015
Can I market a house before probate is granted?
We often get asked the question, Can I market a house before probate is granted? Below we answer this question amongst others that are common when dealing with a probate property sale.
What is probate?
Probate is the process of administering a person’s estate following their death.
In layman’s terms it is the process that ensures the terms of the deceased will are carried out as written in the will. If there is no will, it will be the task of the government to decide who benefits from the deceased‘s estate.
Quite often the assets of a deceased person will include some property, usually in the form of the main residence of the departed. It is the disposal of any property that gives the executers of the will the most to think about.
Can I sell a house before probate is granted?
In certain circumstances a property can be sold before probate is granted.
If the deceased person leaves a spouse or partner who is on the title deeds of the property as a joint owner, then the property can be sold if the surviving wishes it to be disposed of.
However if the deceased person only is named on the title deeds of the property, then probate will be required before the property can be sold.
Can I put a house on the market before probate is granted?
If a person dies without leaving a will, then the executors will be unable to do anything in the way of disposing of any assets, and this includes not being able to market any property until letters of administration have been issued.
However, some estate agents do not take the time to check the distinction between letters of administration and probate, and will be willing to market the property if requested. But a sale will not be allowed to take place until letters of administration have been granted.
In some occasions it is advisable to obtain probate as soon as possible before making any decisions regarding the marketing and sale of any property but this is not always necessary. This will avoid any complications that may arise during the sale.
However, given that is some cases obtaining probate can take some time; it would be prudent in some to begin marketing the property before obtaining probate to allow the sale to take place swiftly after probate has been granted.
Exceptions to the rule
As in all things in life, there are exceptions to the rule of sales taking place before probate is granted.
In some cases contracts can be exchanged prior to probate being granted. One of the exceptions would be that contracts needed to be exchanged to protect the dead person’s estate.
However the contracts would have to be carefully worded to make it clear that no completion could take place until probate has been granted.
The answer to the question
So the answer to the headline question “Can I market a house before probate has been granted?” is yes.
As long as the deceased has left a will, or there is a surviving partner with proven joint ownership in the property.
Take legal advice
The points covered in this article are only rough guides to what is allowed and not allowed in the marketing and selling of houses involved in probate issues.
Dealing with the complex issues of probate requires very specialist knowledge and an astute legal mind with acute attention to detail. With this in mind it would be advisable to engage the services of a solicitor who specialist in the field of probate and letters of administration.
If you have any more questions or would like advice regarding selling a probate property, please do not hesitate to call us on 01425 489333, we would love to help!