Selling inherited property after probate

Selling inherited property in the UK after probate is a multifaceted process that involves legal, financial, and practical considerations. This comprehensive guide covers the steps involved, legal obligations, tax implications, and practical advice to help you navigate this process smoothly.

Understanding Probate

Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, resolving all claims, and distributing the deceased person’s property under a valid will. If the deceased did not leave a will, the process is referred to as obtaining ‘letters of administration.’

Steps in Probate:

  1. Valuing the Estate: Calculate the total value of the deceased’s estate, including property, savings, investments, and personal belongings.
  2. Applying for Probate: Complete the probate application form (PA1P if there’s a will, PA1A if there isn’t) and submit it to the Probate Registry along with the will, if applicable, and the death certificate.
  3. Paying Inheritance Tax: Determine if inheritance tax is due. If it is, arrange for payment.
  4. Grant of Probate: Once granted, this legal document gives you the authority to manage and distribute the estate.

Selling the Property

Once you have the Grant of Probate, you can proceed with selling the property. The process involves several key steps:

1. Preparing the Property for Sale

  • Cleaning and Repairs: Ensure the property is clean and in good repair. This might involve deep cleaning, decluttering, and making minor repairs.
  • Valuation: Obtain a professional valuation to understand the market value. You can get valuations from estate agents or a RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) accredited surveyor.

2. Choosing an Estate Agent

  • Selecting an Agent: Choose a reputable estate agent with experience in selling properties in the area. Compare fees, marketing strategies, and success rates.
  • Marketing the Property: The estate agent will take photos, write descriptions, and list the property on various platforms (online portals, local newspapers, etc.).

3. Negotiating Offers

  • Receiving Offers: Once offers start coming in, review them carefully. Consider the offer amount, the buyer’s position (e.g., cash buyer vs. needing a mortgage), and any conditions attached.
  • Acceptance: Once you accept an offer, the estate agent will issue a memorandum of sale, and both parties will instruct their solicitors.

4. Conveyancing Process

  • Instructing a Solicitor: Choose a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal aspects of the sale. They will prepare the contract, handle the transfer of funds, and ensure all legal requirements are met.
  • Drafting the Contract: The solicitor will draft the contract of sale and negotiate terms with the buyer’s solicitor.
  • Searches and Inquiries: The buyer’s solicitor will conduct property searches (local authority, environmental, water and drainage, etc.) and raise any inquiries.

5. Exchange and Completion

  • Exchange of Contracts: Once both parties are satisfied, contracts are exchanged. This is when the sale becomes legally binding. A deposit (usually 10%) is paid by the buyer at this stage.
  • Completion: On the agreed completion date, the remaining balance is paid, and ownership is transferred to the buyer. You will hand over the keys and vacate the property.

Legal and Tax Considerations

1. Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax (IHT) is due on estates above a certain threshold (£325,000 as of 2024). There are several reliefs and exemptions, such as the main residence nil-rate band. Ensure all IHT liabilities are settled before distributing the estate.

2. Capital Gains Tax

If the property increases in value from the time of death to the time of sale, capital gains tax (CGT) may be payable on the profit. The gain is calculated as the difference between the sale price and the market value at the time of death. Each executor has an annual CGT allowance.

3. Income Tax

Any income generated by the estate during the administration period (e.g., rental income) may be subject to income tax. Executors must complete a tax return for the estate if necessary.

4. Legal Obligations

  • Distributing Proceeds: After paying off any debts and taxes, the remaining proceeds from the sale should be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the will or the rules of intestacy if there is no will.
  • Record Keeping: Maintain detailed records of all transactions and communications related to the estate. This is crucial for transparency and resolving any disputes.

Practical Tips for Selling Inherited Property

1. Communication

Maintain open communication with all beneficiaries. Keep them informed about the progress of the sale and any issues that arise. Transparency helps prevent misunderstandings and disputes.

2. Property Management

If the property is unoccupied, consider security measures such as installing alarms, securing windows and doors, and informing local police. You may also need to arrange for regular maintenance and inspections.

3. Insurance

Ensure the property is adequately insured throughout the sale process. Standard home insurance policies may not cover unoccupied properties, so you might need a specialized policy.

4. Market Timing

Consider the timing of the sale. The property market can fluctuate, so it may be advantageous to sell during a peak season (spring and early summer are typically good times).

5. Professional Advice

Seek professional advice from estate agents, solicitors, and financial advisors. They can provide valuable insights and help you navigate complex situations, such as disputes among beneficiaries or unexpected legal issues.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

1. Disagreements Among Beneficiaries

Disputes among beneficiaries can delay the sale. To mitigate this, ensure clear communication and seek mediation if necessary. An independent solicitor can also help resolve conflicts impartially.

2. Property Condition

Inherited properties may be in poor condition, which can affect their market value. Invest in necessary repairs and improvements to make the property more appealing to buyers.

3. Delays in Probate

Delays in obtaining probate can postpone the sale. To expedite the process, ensure all paperwork is complete and accurate, and respond promptly to any queries from the Probate Registry.

4. Market Conditions

Unfavorable market conditions can make it challenging to sell the property at a desirable price. In such cases, consider renting the property until the market improves.


Selling inherited property after probate in the UK involves a series of legal, financial, and practical steps. Understanding the probate process, preparing the property for sale, navigating the conveyancing process, and managing tax obligations are crucial for a successful sale. By maintaining clear communication, seeking professional advice, and staying organized, you can efficiently manage the sale and ensure that the proceeds are distributed fairly among the beneficiaries. Remember to prioritize legal compliance and transparency to avoid potential disputes and complications.

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