Understanding the probate process and why auction works

Handling the estate of a loved one who has passed away is often a sensitive issue at a difficult time. Ensuring the disposal of any assets is as simple and pain free as possible can make all the difference. We often sell property of those that have passed away on behalf of their family at our auctions. Here are some popular questions answered.

What does probate mean?

Probate is the term used to describe the legal process of proving and registering the last Will of someone who has died. This is often done by a family member, friend or partner. A ‘grant of probate’ must be obtained before any assets, including property, can be distributed in accordance with the Will. It is usually the executor of the estate who will administer the estate and handle the disposal of their assets and debts.

Where do I start and who is the executor of the estate?

Before this probate process can begin and a grant of probate obtained, the executor of the estate will need to be determined and lodged with the Probate Office. An executor of the estate is traditionally named in a Will and is often a family member; on occasion, a solicitor may be named as a co-executor. In instances where there is no Will, an administrator will need to be established.

How long does it take?

It usually takes between two and 12 weeks to receive a grant of probate. Only when the grant of probate is received can a property be sold or transferred to a beneficiary. However, a property can be marketed for sale during this time with a delayed completion.

What happens if not all beneficiaries agree on what to do with the property?

When there is more than one beneficiary involved, conflicting views can sometimes arise when handling or selling a probate property. While the views of all beneficiaries should be considered, it is ultimately the responsibility of the executor to administer the estate in accordance with the law. Disputes, such as whether to sell a property, or rent it out, will have to be resolved in court. In regards to this example, unless there is considerable evidence that a property will increase in value over time, a court may find in favour of a sale rather than a letting.

Selling an estate at auction

Probate properties are particularly well-suited for sale by auction. Most people want to sell the property as quickly and efficiently as possible. Selling at auction not only facilitates a fast sale, meaning beneficiaries can receive their share of the estate quickly, but it also supplies the best price at the culmination of an extensive marketing campaign.

Probate properties are also often in need of refurbishment and modernisation. Fixer-uppers always do well at auction, often selling above guide price to buyers looking for opportunities for renovation projects. Furthermore, probate properties are very often fresh to the market, which increases their appeal.

Executors regularly use public auction for the increased transparency and fairness they offer. The transparent way in which a property is marketed and sold ensures that the executor cannot be accused of any foul-play, such as under-selling.

In addition to our residential and commercial property auctions, we are experienced in handling, splitting and managing the sale of small and large property portfolios as required and advising on the best route to market. Should you have a property to be appraised for auction we would be happy to supply our recommendations and advice on saleability.

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