Jennifer Smith – Partner in the Property team – covers the key points when selling a property as an Executor

Dealing with a person’s estate after they have died can be a significant and daunting task.  If you are appointed as their executor, dealing with the sale of their property may be one of the bigger tasks you will need to handle as part of the administration of their estate.

In terms of the property, as an executor it will be your responsibility for ensuring it is transferred to the right person in accordance with the terms of the will.  If the person or people who the house is left to in the will do not want the property to be put into their names, the property needs to be sold and the proceeds distributed accordingly to those who would have received the property in the will.

In most cases, for example if the property is in the sole name of the deceased or both joint proprietors have now died, it will be necessary for the executor of the will to obtain a grant of probate to give them the legal authority to deal with the sale.  A property can be marketed whilst the grant of probate is awaited, but it would be sensible to obtain the grant of probate as soon as possible to avoid any delay if a sale is agreed quickly.  The sale cannot complete with the grant being in place.

In practical terms the executor would need to get the property valued to ensure it is marketed at the right price and for a sensible sale price to eventually be agreed.  This is particularly important if it is anticipated that there would be any dispute or argument between the potential beneficiaries of the sale proceeds or indeed between them and the executor.  Ensuring proper valuations are obtained and recorded can evidence that the marketed and agreed sale prices were appropriate.

It would also assist the sale process if when clearing a property, you look out for any title deeds, certificates, guarantees or warranties for works done at the property that the seller may have kept.  These can assist greatly in answering any enquiries that a buyer’s solicitor may have, particularly when the executor may not have any personal knowledge of the property.   If a property is unregistered, it is essential to find the deeds or details of where they may be held such as with a former solicitor, bank or building society.

Following completion of the sale, the sale proceeds need to be distributed in accordance with the deceased’s wishes as per the will and the responsibility is on the executor to ensure these are paid to the right people. The sale proceeds should also be recorded in the estate accounts.

For more information or advice, please contact me via jennifer.smith@dbf-law.co.uk or call 0161 832 3304.

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