Do I Need Probate To Sell A Deceased’s Property?
Posted on 24th April 2020
If you have lost a loved one, it can be difficult to know what to do with their assets. Whether it’s money in a bank account, investments, savings, or property, you need to make sure that their assets (known collectively as their Estate) is dealt with correctly.
Today, our Probate Solicitors in Preston are focussing on one particular issue: do you need Probate if the deceased was the sole owner of their property?
There are two aspects of ownership that need to be considered when talking about how a person owned a property: Legal ownership and beneficial ownership.
The legal owner is the person who is registered at the Land Registry or, if the property is not registered (which is getting less common now-a-days, as compulsory registration was enacted country-wide under Section 2 of the Land Registration Act 2002. This Act replaced the provisions of the 1925 Act, which saw the phased introduction of compulsory registration across certain parts of the country, and only in certain circumstances. So, properties purchased before this date, that have had no re-mortgages, transfers or other legal dealings that would be noted at the Land Registry, are likely to be unregistered.
Generally, the legal and beneficial owner will be the same person. However, in some cases, they can be different. One example of this is if the property is held in Trust, such as after a person has died and left their half share to someone other than the ‘joint’ owner. In cases such as these, the legal owner will be the Trustee of the trust, but the beneficial owner will be the beneficiary of the Trust managed by the Trustee.
What happens to a property when someone dies?
When a person passes away, their Estate in England or Wales will usually be dealt with by the Personal Representatives [PRs] (either one person, or two, who are named in the deceased’s Will, or are entitled under the Rules of Intestacy to deal with the Estate if there was no Will left).
Generally, the Executor has authority to deal with the deceased’s Estate from their date of death, whereas Administrators would need to apply for Letters of Administration to deal with the deceased’s affairs.
The PRs will need to ensure that the deceased’s property is kept fully insured (until it’s sold or transferred to the new owner/s), and that it’s protected to prevent against any losses or damage.
Can the property be dealt with without a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration?
First things first, you can read about the difference between a Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration in our Probate Solicitors in Preston’s blog, here. If you are already aware of the differences, you may be wondering if you can deal with the deceased’s property without one of these documents.
Well, as an Executor of a Will, you can usually take action straight away in relation to the Property without a Grant of Probate, although you may find it difficult to finalise any property sale or transfer without a Grant. You can still start dealing with the property clearance and marketing the same for sale. In theory, the Executor could also do things such as enter into a Tenancy Agreement, as long as this is in the best interest of the Estate and, ideally, with the beneficiaries’ agreement.
That being said, entering into such an agreement with a Probate property would be uncommon, and specialist advice should always be taken. You can contact our team of Probate Solicitors in Preston, here, to arrange an initial consultation.
How do I apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration?
Well, an application needs to be made to the Probate Registry for either document, along with a supporting statement, the relevant Inheritance Tax Forms, and the original Will (if there is one).
If you don’t want to deal with the process alone, our team of Probate Solicitors in Preston can help you. Our fixed fee for dealing with simple applications, where there is no Inheritance Tax payable or needing to be calculated, is just £500.00 plus VAT (plus the disbursement of the Probate Registry application fee, which is usually around £158.00).
Once you’ve obtained the legal document, you can then deal with completion of any sale or transfer of the deceased’s property, which our team of property solicitors can deal with on your behalf (again, for an excellent fixed fee).
Contact our team of Probate Solicitors in Preston, here, or contact our team of property solicitors online, here.
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