How Can I Sell an Inherited Property?
We know that dealing with sadness is hard when your loved one passes away. Inheriting a property can leave you with difficult decisions to make. If you are named as a beneficiary by your loved one, they may choose to leave their property to you. It can be a difficult decision and many people choose to either sell, let, or live in it. Selling an inherited property can certainly be tempting.
However, inheriting a house and selling it through an estate agent isn’t always guaranteed to be a speedy process, and, even if you’re lucky enough to find a quick buyer, there may be other costs to consider. However, a strong support system can help make the process easier if you decide to sell.
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Is the property detailed in a will?
The will is the legal document that names the executor (the person in charge of administering the deceased’s estate) and the beneficiaries (those who stand to inherit their estate). Ideally, the deceased will have left instructions on where to find their will. If not, have a look in the usual places – filing cabinets, drawers and safes. If you still can’t find it, the next step is to contact their solicitor.
If they are no longer in business, get in touch with the Solicitors Regulation Authority who may be able to help. If you can’t find a will, the deceased may not have made one. In this case, their estate would usually be administered by the next of kin.
What is probate?
If you are the executor of the will, you will need to apply for probate. The only exception to this is if there is a surviving spouse or civil partner who is named on the mortgage deed. Probate gives legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased, including access to bank accounts, investments and so on.
As part of the probate process you will need to get the property valued as part of their estate, even if you’re not planning to sell straight away. Determining the value of an estate can take months – so be aware of HMRC’s six-month deadline for paying inheritance tax.
Will I need to pay inheritance tax?
First, establish whether you need to pay inheritance tax.
An estate is only liable for inheritance tax if it is worth more than £325,000.
If an estate is left to a spouse or a civil partner inheritance tax does not apply.
Direct descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, step and foster children etc) can inherit a property up to the value of £450,000 without having to pay inheritance tax. This is the case however many beneficiaries are named – which is useful to remember if you’ve inherited a house with siblings.
Other relatives such as siblings, nieces and nephews and anyone else named in a will must pay tax above the standard £325,000 threshold.
If you think you’re liable for inheritance tax, you can use this useful calculator to work out how much you need to pay.
Selling the inherited property
Once you have dealt with the financial and legal complexities associated with inheriting property you will be in a position to sell. You will need to register your ownership with the Land Registry before choosing a route to sale.
There are a variety of different ways to sell the inherited property. You may choose to utilise a traditional estate agent or put the property up for auction. However, selling in either of these ways is not guaranteed.
Costs of dealing with an inherited property
There are three types of tax you could be liable to pay on an inherited property: inheritance tax, income tax and capital gains tax. Take a look at our useful guide below that goes into more depth on tax on inherited property, and if you’re still not sure of something a quick call to your solicitor should determine what you’re liable for. Don’t put it off though – some taxes are payable within the first six months when inheriting a house.
Many inherited homes will already have the mortgage paid off, but it’s always worth checking if there’s an outstanding balance. Contact the mortgage lender to find out more details, as well as their ‘payment after death’ terms.
The type of insurance you will have to pay depends on what you’re planning to do with the property. If it remains empty for more than 30 days, you’ll need unoccupied insurance. If you rent it out, you’ll have to invest in a landlord policy. If you move in yourself, you’ll need a standard home insurance policy.
Top tip: Don’t forget that you’re liable for council tax on inherited property, even when it’s unoccupied. However, your local council may offer a discount, so it’s worth contacting them to find out more.