Inheritance tax, at a rate of 40%, must be paid on estates of more than £325,000 - this threshold increases to £500,000 if the estate is left to the deceased’s children or grandchildren. There is no inheritance tax to pay if left to a spouse or civil partner.
A death in the family and selling a house are both up there with the most stressful life events you can experience. So, it’s no surprise that selling a house you’ve inherited - possibly the family home you grew up in - can be emotionally draining.
While selling an inheritance is much like any other house sale, there are additional legal aspects to consider. From wills and probate to inheritance tax, we look at what you need to know before your property goes on the market.
Make sure you read the will
If the person who has died left a will, it will lay out the name of the executor (the person in charge of making sure the last wishes are carried out) and the beneficiaries (the people who will benefit from the estate). If the property has been left to more than one person - you and your siblings, for example, deciding whether to sell could be less straightforward.
Apply for probate
After someone has died, the first step in organising their estate is to apply for a grant of probate from the Probate Registry. If the person left a will, the executor needs to make the application. If they didn’t, their spouse, civil partner or adult child can apply to administer the estate and apply for probate. There is advice about how to do this on the government website
Once probate has been granted, the executor has the legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased, and get access to bank accounts, investments, and property so it can be distributed among beneficiaries. It usually takes six to eight weeks for probate to be granted.
Consult the experts
You can apply for probate yourself using an online form on the government website
or you can get a solicitor to act on your behalf. While the process is a simple one, using a solicitor can minimise your paperwork and help you avoid the pitfalls of dealing with family members.
Understand the tax implications
Inheritance tax, at a rate of 40%, must be paid on estates of more than £325,000 - this threshold increases to £500,000 if the estate is left to the deceased’s children or grandchildren. There is no inheritance tax to pay if left to a spouse or civil partner. If you inherit a property, then sell it at a later date, you may have to pay capital gains tax on the increase in value while you owned it.
Get the property ready for sale
You should consider some renovations to modernise the place and make it more appealing to buyers. If you don’t have the budget for extensive works, at least have a good clear out. Remove any furniture and dated fittings and repaint the property in neutral colours, making sure you’re letting in the maximum natural light. It is sometimes worth replacing carpets with wooden flooring and make sure you spruce up the exterior of the property too.
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