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Top five things to consider when selling a property following a death

Posted on 12 June 2024

Dealing with property after the death of a loved one can be a complex and emotional process and practical legal advice is vital. If you find yourself in the position of selling a property following the death of the registered proprietor, there are several key legal and practical considerations to keep in mind. Here are the top five things you need to know:

Getting the authority to sell

Before you can go ahead with the sale, you must have the legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased's estate. This typically involves acquiring a grant of probate or letters of administration from the Probate Registry. Our probate and estate administration team can help you to obtain the authority you need.

A Grant of Probate is issued when there is a Will, appointing executor(s) who are then named on the grant. Title to the property is vested in the executor(s).

Letters of Administration are issued when the registered proprietor of the property dies without a Will, or no executors are named in the Will and allows the administrators of the deceased to deal with the property. Until you have either a grant of probate or letters of administration you cannot complete a sale of the property.

You can help to protect the property from fraud by placing a restriction on the registered title to the property at HM Land Registry. A restriction will stop the Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a conveyancer or solicitor certifies the application was made by you. 

You can also sign up with the Land Registry to get free property alerts if someone applies to change the register of the property. For example, if someone tries to use your property for a mortgage. This will not automatically block any changes to the register but will alert you when something changes so that you can take action.

Valuation and tax considerations

It's important to have the property professionally valued as soon as possible after the death of the owner. This valuation will be used to:

  • Determine the Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability, if any; and
  • Establish the property's value for the beneficiaries and for capital gains tax purposes if the property is sold later for a higher price.

Remember that IHT is payable based on the value of the estate, and there are deadlines for paying this tax.

Clearing and securing the property

Before the sale can go ahead, the property will need to be cleared of the deceased's possessions. This can be a sensitive task and professional clearance companies can help. Additionally, make sure that the property is secure and well-maintained to attract potential buyers. You should also ensure that sufficient buildings and contents insurance is in place until the property is sold.

Dealing with mortgages or debts

If there is an outstanding mortgage on the property, you'll need to communicate with the lender to confirm that the proceeds of sale will be sufficient to pay off the mortgage. Any other secured debts against the property will also need to be settled.

The sale process

Once you have the authority to sell the property and have dealt with the preliminary considerations, you can put the property on the market. The sale process typically involves:

  • Choosing an estate agent or auctioneer
  • Setting a realistic selling price based on the valuation
  • Marketing the property effectively
  • Negotiating with potential buyers
  • Instructing a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal aspects of the sale


Selling a property after the death of the registered proprietor requires careful attention to legal procedures and tax implications. It's advisable to seek professional advice to navigate the complexities involved and ensure that the process is handled sensitively and in accordance with the law. By understanding these top five considerations, you can make informed decisions and facilitate a smoother transaction for all parties involved.

How Mishcon de Reya can help

Our residential property team is one of the leading residential property practices in London. Following the death of a family member our team can assist with probate and estate administration, tax advice and private wealth disputes.

Peter Steen in our Private Wealth Disputes team recently wrote an article for the Telegraph: What is probate? How it works and how to execute a loved one’s will.

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