Can The Executor of a Will Sell a Property?

Written by Mathew McCorry

If you read my property blog now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will make you read it.

When you’re the executor of a property you have full control over what happens to the estate of the deceased, as long as there are no living joint owners or a clause in the will that states otherwise.

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What does the executor have to do?

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.

In the case of tenants in common or if the property was owned solely in the deceased’s name, then the executor must check the terms of the will for instructions regarding the property. At times a will specifies that the property, or share of it, must be held in a 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 both own the property and have no identifiable share. When one person dies their share automatically goes to the surviving co-owner. We talk more about options for joint owners in our post on inheriting a house. As tenants in common, each person owns a specific portion of the property.

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Can an executor sell without all beneficiaries approving?

If the executor wishes to sell the property then they can. Any other beneficiaries of a 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 their judgement be clouded by personal feelings. 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 in order to act in the best interests of all beneficiaries.

If there are any debts remaining belonging 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 sale, will receive less money, however the reasoning behind it is valid. Therefore, they cannot appeal against it in this instance.

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Can an executor agree a sale price without all beneficiaries agreeing?

Often a bone of contention between the executors and beneficiaries is the sale price.

Just like with the sale however, the executor has the overall authority and can accept any offer they see fit. They should however take the beneficiaries best interests into account and have a duty to do right by them.

How much does it cost to sell a probate property?

Selling a property in probate is comparative to a normal property sale. If you choose to sell through a traditional method then you are likely to be subject to pay an estate agent fee, solicitor costs & any bills that you have to cover over the duration of the sale.

There may be some additional costs you have to consider such as paying council tax, getting extra insurance if the property is unoccupied & any costs that could be involved with clearing the property.

You also need to consider that you will have to 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 damp.

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 make sure that 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.

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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 7 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 sales people and we're upfront and honest about our service. We can't offer you full market value for your probate property, but we can offer you a fair value. The online quote system is easy to use & it's free for us to provide a valuation, so why not give it a go?

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