If there ever comes a time where you need to understand probate sales…

- Tue 06 Dec 2022

We all hope that we will never have to handle the sale of loved one that has passed away, although the unfortunate fact is that most of us at some stage of our lives, will have to do so. When that time comes, most of us will not be aware of the process you will have to follow in order to process the estate or, if relevant, when you are able to market the property for sale.

In many cases the home will form the majority of the value of the estate to be valued and therefore will be a good guide as to whether the estate will be liable for inheritance tax or not. The threshold where inheritance tax could be considered is £325,000. Most estates that qualify for inheritance tax are charged at 40% tax, only applicable to the amount over the value of £325,000.

It is at this stage where there are various elements that may mean inheritance tax is not chargeable, such as passing the property to a direct relative or spouse, which can be added to their threshold being one example. This is where you should seek guidance on the particular estate or visit the HMRC website which will explain in more detail and cover various circumstances.

In respect of getting the valuation of the land or property that forms part of the estate, should be carried out by a Chartered Surveyor, although if the estate is unlikely to qualify for inheritance tax an estate agent can provide a market appraisal which can be looked at. It is usually best practice to gain three appraisals to provide a mean value, which also enables you to discuss the potential sale of the property/land and find out which companies you may favour to handle the sale.

Technically a property or land that forms part of a deceased estate, (not a pleasant term, although the one referred to in this situation), can be marketed for sale at any time, although it cannot be sold until the grant of probate has been issued and therefore it is often advised to wait until the probate is being processed before taking the steps of marketing.

The Executor(s) of the estate will be the person(s) handling the day to day events of the estate and depending on the complexity of the estate and the number of beneficiaries will depend on how it is processed. It is quite common to have two Executors and a number of beneficiaries, ultimately the Executors will decide when to place the home or land up for sale and may or not include discussions with the beneficiaries. As Estate Agents marketing a deceased estate, we look to keep all agreed parties informed wherever possible.

There are common delays with a deceased estate sale such as the property not being marketed for many years, which could also mean it is not registered on the Government database. A professional estate agent will be able to provide this type of information to you either at the appraisal or afterwards when conversations continue, alternatively you can check the HMRC property register and pay for a copy of the register.

There are many questions that arise, and with each sale being slightly different, it is hard to provide help or advice without having the detail. Bradleys Estate Agents provide help for sales and lettings across the South West and should you find yourself having to handle the sale of a loved one that has recently passed, our teams will be available to you.