It is often the case that after a death there is a property to sell. This can be a time-consuming and sometimes difficult task. We take a look at the steps you will need to go through.
Obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
If the deceased has left a Will, then they will have named an executor and it is that person’s job to apply for a Grant of Probate. Alternatively, if no Will was made then the estate will pass under the Rules of Intestacy in a strict order to close family members and a beneficiary can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration.
The Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration gives the deceased’s personal representative the authority to deal with the winding up of their estate, to include clearing and selling any property.
There are several other jobs that will need to be done as well, including valuing the estate, calculating and paying Inheritance Tax, settling all debts, preparing detailed estate accounts and distributing the estate in accordance with the Will or Rules of Intestacy.
The whole process can be time-consuming and complex, with calculation of Inheritance Tax and preparation of estate accounts being particularly tricky. There can be personal liability for any errors made which result in a loss to the estate. For this reason, it is often recommended that anyone tasked with winding up an estate appoints an expert probate lawyer to act on their behalf. They will be familiar with the procedure and are used to calculating tax and preparing estate accounts.
Make sure that you put unoccupied property insurance in place to give you adequate cover for the period up until the sale.
Clear and clean
If the furnishings are in good order and you feel that they add to the presentation of the property, you can keep them in place, but clear everything else. If they are worn or making the house feel cluttered then it may be better to clear the property completely. If you aren’t sure, then speak to a couple of local estate agents and ask their advice.
They will also be able to give you their opinion about whether to take on any improvement projects. In an area where properties are selling well, this probably won’t be necessary, but if the market is sluggish and it is likely to be difficult to attract an offer, then they may recommend some remedial or cosmetic work.
At the very least, the property should be clean and neat and be made to feel as light and spacious as possible.
A property can take on an abandoned feel it is left empty for a lengthy period. Try and keep it warm and aired so that it doesn’t smell or feel damp and clean and dust it occasionally. If you are not based locally, then this may involve employing someone to visit.
The gardens should also be given some attention, particularly at the front where the buyers’ first impressions will be made. Again, you can employ someone to do this, but it is worth making sure shrubs and trees are nicely clipped, that nothing is blocking the windows, that weeds are removed and pathways are swept and clear.
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