A Brief Guide to Probate

Probate and a property sale

When selling a property left behind by a relative, probate is often involved. But what is it?

It’s the formal permission needed to deal with someone’s estate, basically their property, money, and possessions, when they die.

If you are named in the deceased person’s will as an executor, you can apply for probate.

But even if they didn’t leave a will, depending on your relationship to them, you can apply to become the administrator of the estate.

In most cases, you will need legal permission to sell their property, hence the need to apply for probate.

If the deceased left a will, a ‘grant of probate” will be issued to the named executors of the will. Whereas if the deceased left no will, this is called “intestacy” and ‘letters of administration’ are received by the persons entitled under the laws of intestacy. The assets of a deceased person frequently include property. It is often the disposal of a probate property that gives the executors of the will the most work.

Can I apply for probate myself?

Individuals can apply for probate themselves if they are an executor or an administrator and are in possession of the original death certificate. Alternatively, they can appoint a solicitor or probate expert to do so on their behalf. There is a probate application form PA1P to complete and there is a government Inheritance tax helpline to help you with the forms.

Can you clear a property before probate is granted?

It is possible to clear a property of possessions before probate is granted particularly if the property falls well below the inheritance tax threshold of £325,00. However, this is often a contentious issue with families where there is more than one beneficiary and legal advice should always be sought before commencing a house clearance.

Can I buy a house before probate is granted?

In certain circumstances, a property may be sold before probate is granted. For example, if a surviving spouse or partner of the deceased is a joint owner and wishes to sell the property it can be sold in the usual way. However, if the deceased is the only name on the title deeds of the property, probate will be required before the property can be sold.

The property may of course be marketed, and a property purchase may proceed even as far as an exchange in rare circumstances although the property purchase can only be completed once probate is secured.

Can I put a house on the market before probate is granted?

If a person dies without leaving a will, the executors will be unable to market any property until letters of administration have been issued.

However, some estate agents do not take the time to check the distinction between letters of administration and probate and will be willing to market the property if requested. But a sale will not be allowed to take place until letters of administration have been granted.

In order to avoid any complications arising during the sale, it is usually advisable to obtain probate before making any decisions regarding the marketing and sale of any property included in the estate. However, given the length of time it can take to secure probate it is often a good idea to obtain valuations and begin marketing the property beforehand, to allow the sale to take place quickly after probate has been granted.


Before applying for probate, it’s advisable to do some preparations if a property is part of their estate.

  • Estimate the value of the deceased’s assets.
  • From a property perspective, it’s wise to get valuations from respected local estate agents.
  • Be clear of any valuation as this may have inheritance tax implications further down the line. We suggest contacting HMRC or a solicitor who can advise you professionally.

For everything else, call Daniel James residential on 01691 674494

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