Estate Agents Role in Navigating the Probate Sale Process

The probate sale process is complex and can be daunting for those dealing with the loss of a loved one. Experienced property experts including estate agents in Yorkshire opine it is important to understand the challenges involved and aim to provide guidance to ease the burden. This blog will highlight the essential aspects of selling a probate property, offering clarity and assurance to those in need.

Understanding Probate

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate. This includes validating the will, if one exists, and distributing the assets as per the will or state law. Executors, named in the will, or the closest living relatives, in the absence of a will, are responsible for managing this process. It’s important to note that financial plans or property sales should not be initiated until probate is granted.

The Role of an Executor

An executor is an individual appointed in the will to handle the deceased’s estate. This role involves numerous responsibilities, such as paying off debts, handling liabilities, valuing assets, and managing the payment of inheritance taxes. If selling a probate property, the executor is responsible for organising the sale and ensuring all legalities are followed.

What is a Probate Sale?

A probate sale occurs when a deceased person’s property needs to be sold. The executor, granted legal rights through the will, manages this sale. If there is no will, the process is handled by the closest relative, who must obtain a grant of letters of administration.

Steps in the Probate Process

Obtaining a Grant of Probate

A Grant of Probate is a legal document confirming that the executor has the authority to manage the deceased’s estate. If there is no will, a grant of letters of administration serves a similar function. Executors or administrators can apply for this grant either online or by postal application to a Probate Registry. Before applying, a market appraisal and valuation from a reputable estate agency are required.

Required Documents for Grant of Probate

To apply for a Grant of Probate, the following documents are needed:

  • PA4P probate application form
  • Death certificate
  • Original copy of the will
  • Completed inheritance tax form

Valuing the Property

The valuation of the property is crucial as it is typically one of the estate’s most valuable assets. Obtaining a formal written valuation from an estate agent is recommended to simplify matters related to inheritance tax with HMRC. Executors can value the property themselves, but an accurate professional valuation helps prevent challenges and delays.

Checking the Title and Deeds

Confirming the property’s ownership through its title and deeds is essential. These documents outline any restrictions on the property. They can be accessed electronically via the Land Registry on the GOV.UK website or found as paper deeds possibly held by the deceased’s solicitor.

Paying Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax on the estate must be paid before probate can be granted. This tax is due within six months of the date of death, and any delays in the probate process can result in interest accruing on the unpaid tax.

Applying for Probate

While it is possible to apply for probate independently, the process can be time-consuming and complex. We recommend using a solicitor experienced in probate matters to ensure the application is correctly completed and submitted, minimising errors and delays.

Preparing for Sale

Registering the Death

Part of the probate process involves providing a death certificate and the original will. These documents are necessary for all subsequent steps.

Cleaning and Decluttering

The executor is responsible for clearing the property of all personal belongings. This includes removing furniture, fittings, and contents from all areas, including lofts, cellars, garages, and garden sheds. Professional cleaning services may be needed to ensure the property is presentable.

Garden and Exterior Maintenance

Maintaining the exterior of the property is essential for making a good first impression. Ensure all access points are clear, overgrown gardens are trimmed, and any rubbish is removed.

Securing the Property

For security reasons, consider installing timer lights, changing locks, and keeping curtains in the front rooms. While a ‘For Sale’ board can attract buyers, it may not always be necessary.

Providing Property Notes

Providing detailed notes about the property can be beneficial to prospective buyers. Although information may be limited, any details beyond the basics can help in marketing the property effectively.

Marketing and Selling the Property

Listing the Property

Once the Grant of Probate is obtained, the property can be listed for sale. During the probate application period, it is possible to appoint an estate agent, list, market the property, conduct viewings, and agree on a sale price. However, legal authority to exchange contracts and complete the sale is only granted once the Grant of Probate is received.

Managing Buyer Expectations

It’s important to inform potential buyers of the probate status. Since contracts cannot be exchanged until the Grant of Probate is obtained, buyers need to be aware of possible delays. This transparency helps manage expectations and ensures buyers are willing to wait if necessary.

Finalising the Sale

After obtaining the Grant of Probate, the sale process can proceed swiftly, similar to a regular property transaction. All legal and financial steps must be completed to finalise the sale.


Navigating the probate sale process requires careful attention to detail and adherence to legal requirements. As estate agents, we provide the necessary support and expertise to ensure a smooth and efficient process. By understanding the steps involved and preparing accordingly, executors can manage the sale of a probate property with confidence and clarity.

Luke Johnson