Can The Executor Of A Will Sell A Property?
Wondering what an Executor is, and how probate property works? Find out below...
When you're the Executor of a property, you have complete control over what happens to the deceased's estate as long as there are no living joint owners or a clause in the will that states otherwise.
What Does The Executor Have To Do?
If you act as an Executor for a deceased person's will, you are the individual responsible for tying up the deceased's estate and all items of their will.
An executor of a will must send a Deceased Joint Proprietor form to the Land Registry, along with a death certificate, when the property is jointly owned.
This will get the deceased person's name removed from the title deeds.
If tenants in common owned the property jointly or solely in the name of the deceased, then the Executor must check the terms of the will for instructions regarding the property.
At times a choice specifies that the property, or share, must be held in trust for the beneficiary until a specific time. Whatever the instructions, the Executor must adhere to them.
If there are no provisions in the will, then the Executor must do as they see fit.
What Happens If The Deceased Owned The Property Jointly?
If a property is owned jointly with another person, then this will either be as a joint tenant or a tenant in common.
As joint tenants, you own the property and have no identifiable share. When one person dies, their share automatically goes to the surviving co-owner. We discuss options for joint owners in our post on inheriting a house.
As tenants in common, each person owns a specific portion of the property.
Can An Executor Sell Without All Beneficiaries Approving?
If the Executor wishes to sell the property, then they can.
Any other beneficiaries will have no special rights, although they can take legal action if they believe the Executor has sold the property for less than it is worth or has let personal feelings cloud their judgement.
The Executor certainly shouldn't sell a property for personal gain.
The Executor has overall authority and is entitled to accept an offer from a buyer.
However, they must sell the property for a reasonable sum to act in the best interests of all beneficiaries.
If any debts belong to the deceased, then the Executor must use money from the sale of the property to pay these off first.
This will mean that any beneficiaries with a stake in the profits from a deal will receive less money. However, the reasoning behind it is valid. Therefore, they cannot appeal against it in this instance.
Can The Beneficiaries Remove The Executor?
If the beneficiaries think the Executor is misbehaving, they can go to court to remove them as executors of the will.
However, this can be an extra cost as you pay for solicitor fees, so it's best to try to resolve the conflict first.
The court will usually agree to remove the Executor if they are unsuitable for the role, become ineligible for the position (committed a crime), or are incapable of carrying out their duties, for example, if they have a disability which prevents them from doing what is required.
The court would clarify 'being unsuitable’ for the role as mismanaging or stealing from the estate, not complying with a court order, failing to act in the beneficiaries' best interest and keeping estate accounts accurate.
If the court agrees that they should remove the Executor, they might approve a professional Executor instead.
In some rare cases, there can be more than one Executor, who will all have to come to terms on selling the probate property.
Can An Executor Agree On A Sale Price Without All Beneficiaries Agreeing?
The sale price is often a bone of contention between the executors and beneficiaries.
As with the sale, however, the Executor has the overall authority and can accept any offer they see fit.
They should, however, take the beneficiary's best interests into account and have a duty to do right by them.
What Is Probate Property?
Probate property is the financial and legal process of dealing with a person's property once they have passed away.
The Executor or 'next of kin' is named in the will, and they are allowed to claim, sell, distribute, or transfer any assets of the deceased person's property.
They will likely apply to probate the property.
The probate property legal documentation confirms an individual's legitimacy to control the entire estate.
They are allowing the Executor or close family to sign contracts — like to sell a house.
The Grant of Probate is a legal document that allows executors to take complete control of the assets involved and confirms the will's validity.
It can take up to six months to obtain the grant, mainly where tax is payable.
If there is no will, the document is called the Grant of Letters of Administration, which allows close family members to take control instead.
How To Follow A Will Using Probate Property?
In a person's will, they typically mention what they want to happen to their property when they die.
They may choose to leave it to one beneficiary or share it between a few; they may even decide to leave it in a Trust for a specific period.
Occasionally, someone might forget to mention what they want to happen to their property, in which case the Executor will decide what to do with it — while taking into account the wishes of the beneficiaries.
Does Probate Property Still Apply If There's No Will?
Executors have the final say over what happens to a deceased person's property, even if they didn't leave behind a will.
They will still need to consider the best interests of any beneficiaries and not let any personal attachment to the property affect this.
How Do You Sell A Property As An Executor?
If the deceased person's estate includes a property, then as the Executor, it is your responsibility to take care of selling the probate property unless any beneficiaries wish for the parcel to be transferred to their names.
As an Executor, you may not have prior knowledge of the deceased's property, which you should reflect in any enquiry questions if a purchaser's solicitor asks.
You must find out as much information about the property as possible; however, if there will still be gaps in your knowledge, you are not expected to relay this or make up fake information to fill it.
As the property's Executor, you must sell the probate property for the best possible price for the benefit of the estate and any stakeholders.
The sale proceeds must be paid in the name of all executors involved, and all will need to sign the ultimate transfer document.
During the application process of either the Grant of Probate or the Grant of Letters of Administration, you must complete a financial account detailing the deceased's assets and liabilities.
This includes completing balances and house valuations – you should obtain at least three estate agents' house valuations and make an average of the property's value.
Alternatively, you can receive a free house valuation with us, we will contact you within 24 hours, and this is a no-obligation to follow-through service.
As well as a house valuation, you should also check the property's title.
The probate property should be registered with The Land Registry, and it should be relatively straightforward to receive a copy of title entries and plan, ensuring the property is signed in the deceased's name and that the plan shows everything on the property.
But, if the probate property is not registered, you will need to locate the paper title deeds, which may be held by the deceased's solicitor, bank, or home.
Finding these can take a significant amount of time.
You will need the help of your solicitor to then check the title entries and plan in case there are restrictions on the property or defects in the title, which may need to be fixed before the property is sold.
As the Executor, you may also need to completely clear the property of its content before the property is sold.
This can be time-consuming as its entity, and you should leave plenty of time; we recommend gifting to friends, family and charity shops — but also online marketplaces.
How Much Does It Cost To Sell A Probate Property?
Selling a property in probate is comparable to an average property sale.
If you choose to sell through a traditional method, you are likely to be subject to an estate agent fee, solicitor costs & any bills you have to cover over the sale.
There may be additional costs you have to consider, such as paying council tax, getting extra insurance if the property is unoccupied & any expenses that could be involved with clearing the property.
It would help if you also considered that you would have to pay any bills over the duration that you hold the property, and you may have to pay for things like heating in the winter to avoid dampness.
How Can The Property Buying Company Help?
Being an executor isn't an easy task, especially if the person appointed is dealing with the grief of their loved one passing.
Although they have complete control of the property and what happens to it, it might be worth discussing options with any beneficiaries to ensure everyone is on the same page.
As a group, it can be decided whether the property is put on the market to await an offer or whether a quick cash buyer like The Property Buying Company might be a less stressful option.
Benefits Of Selling Probate Property To Us
When you've inherited a property, there are quite a few benefits to using our service that you may not have considered; these include:
We'll pay you in cash.
We can even cover all your fees, such as the solicitor fees.
We can purchase in as little as seven days, so you'll avoid costly utility bills, council tax and other insurances that may add up over the duration of a typical sale.
We're not pushy salespeople and are upfront and honest about our service. We can't offer you the total market value for your probate property, but we can provide you with a fair deal.
The online quote system is easy to use & it's free for us to provide a valuation, so why not give it a go?