Can a house be sold before probate is granted?

When you want to sell the house of someone who has died do you have to wait for the grant of probate?

The short answer is YES!

Without the grant there is nothing to show the legal chain of ownership from the person who owned the house to the person who wishes to sell it. This will be either the executor, or where there is no will, the administrator. Until the grant is issued they have no power to sell, despite being expressly named as executor in the will!

This should not stop the personal representatives from marketing the property, instructing valuers and solicitors on behalf of the estate, but until the grant is issued they cannot effectively enter into a contract to sell the property or complete the sale. Any solicitor acting for the purchasers of an “estate sale”, ie the sale of a property owned by someone who has died, will require a certified copy of the grant.

The same thing applies to renting out the house or flat of someone who has died on a new tenancy.  Whilst the executor or administrator can continue with an ongoing tenancy, until the grant is issued they have no power to bind the estate and so cannot enter into any legal obligations on it’s behalf without the grant.

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