Probate Sale - Top tips for buyers and sellers

5 min read
The sale of a probate property comes with a number of challenges for both the buyer and the seller. For the buyer it is the uncertainty of the information being provided as the executors are normally completing the paperwork and may not have lived at the property; along with the potential for delays related to probate sales.

For the seller it is the complexity of obtaining Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration, valuing the property and handling the sale of a property that didn't belong to them.

This article guides you through the different challenges for both the buyer and the seller of a probate property and provides solutions to make the sale easier for you both.

House Valuation for Probate

For the Seller:
You'll need to get a valuation for the property as at the time of death as this is used in the calculation for Inheritance Tax. The valuation has to be conducted by a RICS qualified valuer as they'll need to look at what they feel the value of the property was at the time of death in its current condition. This is not always easy as the housing market in many areas goes up and down frequently so the RICS valuer you use should have good local knowledge to give an accurate valuation for probate.

If you need a RICS valuer we have local surveyors available to help you with valuing the probate property at the time of death. To order call 0333 344 3234 of email for a competitive quote.

For the Buyer:
As a buyer you'll pay the value of the property based on the current market value and this is normally set by a local estate agent. A probate valuation doesn't affect what you are buying the property for.

What does the seller need to do to get Grant of Probate?

For the Seller:
When handling a probate sale you'll need to get the authority to do so first via a Grant of Representation (also known as a Grant of Probate) if you are an executor and there is a will, or via a Grant of Letters of Administration if you are an administrator and there is no will (this is called intestate). The application to get a grant, whether you have a will or not, is the same and can take time as you need to:

    Complete a Probate Application Form PA1
    Complete an Inheritance Tax Form (Important - Whether you have inheritance tax to pay or not, you'll still need to complete an Inheritance Tax Form and submit to the HMRC)

You have to pay any inheritance tax due, no later than 6 months after death, otherwise interest is payable. This could mean paying out before the estate assets have been sold.

    Swear an oath

The process to get the grant after application is around 10 working days, however it can takes months to prepare the probate application form and inheritance tax forms, especially if there are a number of different assets to find or if the estate is intestate.

For the Buyer:
You can't speed up the application to get the grant of probate so the key is to understand the process so you can plan. The first thing you should ask of the seller is "Do they actually have the Grant of Probate?", if yes, then there is no time delay - unless the answer is yes they have applied but no they haven't had the actual Grant of Probate issued. If the answer is no, then you need to ask "Have you made you application to the Probate Registry?"

As a buyer you'd hope that the property wouldn't be marketed until the executors had legal control over the asset to allow them to sell. Sadly, and most commonly, executors look to first market the property to get a buyer and then look to get the Grant of Representation or Grant of Letters of Administration afterwards.

The greatest challenge you face is if you have a buyer for your own property and they are waiting on you and the probate sale to get a Grant. You'll need a very patient buyer and to keep them regularly informed whilst the grant is being finalised.

Probate House Sale Process

For the Seller:
As part of the probate house sale process the executors of the estate will complete the Property Information Forms (TA6 Property Information and TA10 Fittings and Contents) to the best of their knowledge. These forms include other property related documents such as boiler maintenance certificates, electrical works invoices, FENSA certificates, planning permissions and building control sign off.
The issue the seller's representative faces is that you are most likely unable to provide answers to many of the questions and may not have the supporting documents to provide. It is common for a representative to tick 'Do Not Know' for many of the answers within the property information forms.

Read what property forms are required here - Property Information forms for sellers

For the Buyer:
As a buyer you buy the property 'Caveat Emptor' or buyer beware; taking on full responsibility for any issues with the property from the point of exchange of contracts. This means that if there is an issue with the property in the future, for example there was no building control sign off for an extension or the boiler breaks, then you have no legal recourse over the seller (unless they made false representations to you). It is for this reason that you must get as much information from the seller as humanly possible - this could mean the seller getting retrospective building control sign off or a boiler service/check at the seller's own cost.

Need help with a Probate Sale?

The process of selling or buying a probate property is not standard compared to a normal conveyancing so you will need support. We have solicitors who specialise in probate sales and work to a fixed fee quote. If you'd like to call to discuss further then call 0333 344 3234 or email us at

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