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Helpful Advice

Probate Valuations

Probate Valuations

By Peter Barry

This may be a highly emotional time for a family who has lost a loved one, however practical demands require the family to address the probate issues relating to the deceased’s estate and this will require an accurate written valuation of the deceased’s property based upon the open market value of the property. The valuation is not just for when the property is going to be put on the market for sale but will be used to assist in the calculation submitted to Inland Revenue confirming the amount of inheritance tax payable. Once the return has been submitted, the District Valuer at the Capital Taxes Office will consider the calculation given. If they believe that the value is too low the person who submitted the return will be asked to defend the value given. This may arise if the property is sold for considerably more than the value given just a short period after the date of death. It is always advisable to ask your estate agent for copies of comparables when establishing the price of a property. Comparables are what similar properties in the area have sold for recently.

When to market a probate property?

It is important to check that the property is going on to the market at the right time. The sale cannot be completed until the executors have obtained a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration if the deceased dies without leaving a will. These documents are needed as proof that the executors have the legal authority to sell the property and can take many weeks to obtain. Many keen buyers will lose interest if after many months the sale does not appear to be progressing whilst legal paperwork relating to the probate is dealt with. An experienced estate agent will be able to give you some guidance on this matter.

Other matters to consider

If the property is empty it is important to review the security arrangements and review the insurance on the property. Many insurance policies, buildings and contents, become invalid if a property is left empty for more than 28 days; however there are companies who specialise in offering this type of policy. Check the current policies and switch company if they are unable to help further.

Some probate properties may be left in poor condition. Ask your estate agent if minor improvements could make a difference to the marketability of the property. A general tidy up of the home and garden, may make a considerable difference to the speed at which an agreeable price is achieved.

Finally, once a buyer is secured many questions may be raised about the property. To ensure a speedy sale it is worth trying to obtain as much information as possible such as guarantees and instruction manuals etc. If, however, the information isn’t available it should be made clear to the purchaser from the start that as the executor of the property you may have limited, or no, knowledge of the property.