Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person and distributing the
Asset’s of the deceased either in accordance with the rules of intestacy (if there is no Will) or in accordance with the last wishes (Will) of the deceased. This may sometimes involve selling a house or a flat so that the Estate proceeds can be distributed to the beneficiaries.
If the deceased has left a Will and appoints executor(s) then they will be responsible for calling in the assets and distributing them. The executor(s) may not be able to deal with the assets until such time as a Grant of Probate has been obtained. The Probate Court issues the Grant of Probate and confirms that the executor(s) have authority to deal with the deceased’s estate. Before obtaining the Grant of Probate a return must be submitted to HM Revenue and Customs confirming the amount of inheritance tax payable. The return gives details of the deceased’s assets at the date of death which includes the details of any real property. Once the Revenue has confirmed that they are happy with the Return then an application is made to the Probate Court for the Grant of Probate.
If a person dies without leaving a Will then their estate will be dealt under the rules of
Intestacy and obtaining Letters of Administration the court will appoint administrators instead of executors.
Selling the Property.
The executors/personal representatives will only have title to sell the property once the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration has been issued by the Probate Court. As the property has to be sold and is possible for contracts to be exchanged prior to the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration is obtained as the contract needs to be carefully drafted in order to state that the completion will take place only once the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration has been issued by a long stop date so that the buyer will be able to rescind the contract and are prepared to proceed on this basis. All buyers are prepared to proceed on this basis and also should be aware that if there is no Letters of Administration (in case if there is no Will) been issued, then the executors/personal representative cannot even market the property.
If the property is sold as an executor/personal representative then the buyer should be notified that they are buying the property form the executor/representative who may probably have not lived at the property and have not detailed knowledge of the property.
You as an executor(s)/personal representative(s) are entitled to sell the property with limited title guarantee and a statement in the Transfer Deed will be incorporated stating that you are only liable for the information that you provide in respect of the period since the date of death of the deceased.
Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended)
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