british houses

How Long Does an Executor Have to Sell a House UK

How Long Does an Executor Have to Sell a House UK

When it comes to selling a house as an executor, the process can be both emotionally and legally challenging. Executors play a crucial role in managing and selling a deceased person’s property in the UK, and understanding their responsibilities is essential for a smooth process. One common question is, “how long does an executor have to sell a house UK?” In this blog post, we will guide you through the executor’s role, the timeline of a house sale, legal and financial considerations, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Executors have legal authority and duty to sell the deceased’s property, with consideration for market conditions and property value.
  • They must manage finances such as inheritance tax, banking matters, and debt settlement in order to facilitate an equitable sale.
  • The timeline may be extended due to delays caused by factors like legal disputes or obtaining a Grant of Probate.

Understanding the Executor’s Role and Timeline in UK Property Sales

An executor’s main duty is to oversee the deceased person’s property, including the management and disposal of their property, in compliance with UK law. This process is known as the Executor’s Year, a 12-month period during which the executor is expected to arrange everything. Executors are obligated to ensure that creditors of the deceased are paid from the estate and that all beneficiaries receive their respective portions of the remaining assets. Giving estate agents and potential buyers a realistic timescale is imperative if a property is being sold prior to probate. This ensures that all parties are kept informed of the progress throughout the process…

When selling a deceased person’s home, the executor must carefully address several financial considerations, such as third-party interests in the property and paying outstanding debts. Seeking professional legal advice is beneficial in preventing disputes and promoting a seamless selling process, particularly given the emotional hurdles that can surface during these challenging times.

Executor’s Legal Authority and Duty to Sell

If the will specifies or the court authorises, executors hold the legal power to sell a property as part of the deceased’s estate. Their duty extends beyond selling the property; they must also ensure the property’s safety, maintenance, and market value when selling the house. Executors who fail to act in the best interests of beneficiaries or breach their legal duties could face legal action and potential penalties.

To prevent legal conflicts, executors are encouraged to maintain open communication with all the beneficiaries before initiating any actions, such as buying the property at its fair market value or deciding to sell it. This transparent communication ensures that all parties are informed and their interests are protected throughout the selling process, making it essential to have a clear legal document in place.

Timeframe for Executors to Complete a House Sale

An executor reviewing documents related to the sale of a house, considering the realistic timescale for completing the process.No fixed timeline exists for executors to sell a house as it hinges on multiple factors including market conditions, the state of the property, and the complexity of the estate. To ensure a smooth selling process, it’s important to have the property accurately valued and exchange contracts in a timely manner.

The process of selling a probate property begins with the successful completion of the necessary legal procedures to acquire a grant of probate. Once probate is concluded, the probate sale of the property can be initiated, typically pricing the deceased’s home to be expeditiously sold while considering the overall estate value.




The Grant of Probate: Unlocking the Executor’s Power to Sell

The Grant of Probate is a critical element in the process of selling a deceased person’s property, as it grants the executor the legal authority to sell the property and administer the estate. The process to obtain the Grant of Probate involves the following steps:

  1. Submitting a tax return to HM Revenue and Customs to confirm the amount of inheritance tax due.
  2. Making an application to the Probate Court for the Grant of Probate.
  3. Gathering all necessary details required for the application.

Without the grant in place, the exchange of contracts is not possible, which can postpone the selling process. Therefore, obtaining the Grant of Probate is a vital step for the executor to move forward in the property sale and manage the deceased person’s estate.

Valuing and Marketing the Deceased’s Property

Executors bear the significant responsibility of:

  • Accurately valuing the deceased’s property
  • Effectively marketing the property
  • Preparing the property for sale
  • Selecting the right estate agent
  • Setting the market value

Executors can steer clear of legal conflicts with beneficiaries and promote a seamless and efficient sale process through careful execution of these steps.

Preparing for Sale

Preparing to sell the property includes cleaning, maintenance, and potentially making improvements to increase its value when selling property. Executors should identify and complete required repairs, remove clutter, clean the property, neutralise the atmosphere, and paint where necessary.

Executors can attract potential buyers and secure a successful sale by showcasing the property in its best condition.

Selecting the Right Estate Agent

Choosing an experienced estate agent with knowledge of probate sales can help ensure a smooth and efficient process. These agents can offer invaluable assistance by assuming responsibility for property viewings, marketing the property, and navigating the complexities of probate sales.

The overall selling experience can be greatly enhanced through reliance on their expertise and guidance.

Setting the Market Value

Establishing the market value is of high importance because if a property is sold below its market value, it may spark legal disputes with beneficiaries. It’s important to consult with professional valuers or appraisers to assess the value of the assets accurately, ensuring the property is valued correctly.

Executors should also consider obtaining two or three estate agent valuations to ensure a fair and reasonable sale price for the property.

Legal and Financial Considerations During the Sale

During the selling process, executors need to tackle several legal and financial factors, including inheritance tax, handling the deceased’s bank accounts, and settling any outstanding debts. By successfully navigating these aspects, executors can ensure a smooth sale and distribution of assets to the beneficiaries.

Addressing Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax must be calculated and paid within six months of the deceased’s death. Executors are responsible for submitting the appropriate tax returns to HMRC within the prescribed deadline and may need to pay the tax before the property is sold. If the home is sold for a different amount than expected, HMRC will provide a rebate or require the executor to pay the additional sum.

Managing the Deceased’s Bank Accounts and Debts

Executors should follow these steps to manage the deceased person’s estate and pay off any outstanding debts:

  1. Create an estate bank account to handle the deceased person’s assets, including their bank accounts.
  2. Obtain a grant from the Probate Registry to gain legal authority to deal with the assets.
  3. Pay off all outstanding debts, including any interest due.
  4. Distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

Communicating with Beneficiaries and Family Members

Maintaining open communication with beneficiaries and family members is key to preventing disputes and ensuring a seamless process. Executors should provide up-to-date information on the progress of the sale, an outline of the timeline, details of the sale price, and any legal or financial matters linked to the sale. By keeping beneficiaries informed, executors can maintain trust and prevent potential disagreements.

When managing complaints from beneficiaries regarding the sale process, executors should:

  • Promptly and professionally address any concerns raised
  • Provide clear explanations
  • Maintain a record of all requests and conversations
  • Ensure equitable treatment of all beneficiaries
  • If necessary, seek legal counsel to resolve conflicts or disagreements.

Insuring the Property and Handling Personal Belongings

Prior to selling, executors need to insure the property, manage personal belongings, and clear the house. During this process, it’s essential to consult with family members and beneficiaries before removing any valuable items to prevent potential disputes. Executors should also ensure important documents, such as unregistered title deeds, are kept safe to verify the property’s ownership.

When it comes to insuring the property, the executor should contact the insurance provider to ascertain the available options and inform them of the situation. Ensuring the property is adequately insured protects the estate and the executor from potential liabilities during the probate process.

Completing the Sale and Distributing Assets

A conveyancer finalizing the sale process, ensuring the smooth transfer of assets to the beneficiaries.Finalizing the sale includes handing over the property to the buyer, settling any remaining debts, and distributing the assets among the beneficiaries. The process of transferring property ownership in the UK after the sale involves going through the conveyancing process, which includes completing a Change the Register (AP1) form and registering the transfer with the Land Registry.

Once all debts have been paid, including any interest due, the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the deceased’s wishes or the laws of intestacy. By efficiently managing these final steps, executors can successfully conclude the estate administration process and fulfill their responsibilities to the beneficiaries.

When Executors Face Delays: Extending the Timeline

Various factors such as acquiring the Grant of Probate or resolving legal disputes may cause delays in the process for executors. In such cases, the timeline for selling the property may need to be extended. The average duration for obtaining a Grant of Probate in the UK is typically around 6 months.

To manage the property during delays, executors can:

  • Ensure the sale is in the best interests of the beneficiaries
  • Act in their best interests
  • Take necessary steps to identify all assets and liabilities
  • Keep clear records of the estate
  • Communicate with the beneficiaries

By proactively addressing potential obstacles, executors can better navigate the challenges of the estate administration process.


In conclusion, selling a house as an executor in the UK requires a thorough understanding of the executor’s role, legal authority, and responsibilities. By addressing inheritance tax, managing the deceased’s bank accounts, insuring the property, and communicating with beneficiaries, executors can ensure a smooth and efficient process. Despite potential delays, a well-prepared executor can successfully navigate the complexities of estate administration and fulfill their duty to the beneficiaries.

quick in orange circle
discreet in orange circle
free chash offer

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an executor delay the sale of a property?

Yes, an Executor can delay the sale of a property but they must do so in the best interests of the beneficiaries and within a reasonable amount of time. Furthermore, they risk being liable for any claims made by beneficiaries due to delays.

How long does an executor have to settle an estate in the UK?

An executor typically has 8 to 12 months, or up to 2 years in more complex cases, to settle an estate in the UK.

How long can an executor hold funds?

An executor typically has a year to distribute the deceased’s assets to the beneficiaries; however, if the estate is complex, it may take longer than that.

What is the Executor's Year?

The Executor’s Year is the 12-month period in which the executor must complete all tasks related to estate administration.

How long does it take to obtain a Grant of Probate in the UK?

On average, it takes around 6 months to obtain a Grant of Probate in the UK.

Cash Property Buyers, We Buy Any House

Speak to a member of our team and find out how we can help you sell your house quickly.

About the author

Klara is a property expert. She knows everything there is to know about the property market, and she's always happy to share her tips, tricks, and advice with others who are looking to sell. Klara has been in the business for many years, and her experience makes her one of the most trusted sources of information in this field. When it comes to the housing market, Klara knows what she's talking about!