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The Property Doctor.


Q. How long should it take to wind up an estate when there is a straightforward non-contested will? My mother died three weeks ago and we have to sell her property.

A. It is not a question of winding up the estate as such. It is a question of how long it will take before you can obtain a Grant of Probate of your mother's will. The time taken in the preliminary stage will depend entirely on the size of the estate. If your mother simply left the house and a couple of straightforward accounts in the bank or building society with no shares or other interests in any other property then a Grant of Probate can be obtained relatively quickly once valuations of the assets forming the estate have been obtained. In fact, you could proceed to make arrangements to place the property on the market even though a grant has not yet been obtained.

You can, for example, proceed to clear the property, get it ready for marketing, approach your choice of agents as well as instructing your solicitor to prepare the contract papers with the outstanding Grant of Probate (which is the legal document entitling the executors to sell), to follow, enabling the property to be marketed. If it takes a month or two to sell then this will coincide with the time that it is likely to take to obtain a grant.

If a buyer is found immediately the property is placed on the market, then the preliminary conveyancing process can begin, although contracts cannot be exchanged until the grant has been obtained, as this is the document that vests the title to your late mother's property in the names of the executors, enabling them to legally transfer title to the property to a third party purchaser.

Q. I have been sharing a house with an old university friend for the past six years, but my fiance and I have now set a date to marry and I want to sell up and buy a new home with her. My friend says he will not sell his share and cannot afford to buy me out. What can I do? A. Unless agreement can be reached between you, the only option is for one party to apply to the court for an Order for Sale. This should naturally be avoided at all costs due to the costs involved and the various issues that would be raised when the court considers whether it would be appropriate to make such an order.

If your friend is unable to buy out your share in the property then he should consider linking up with a relative or another friend to do so - just as he did when you both decided to buy the property in the first place. Unless he can show that he would suffer substantial hardship if the property were to be sold, then the court would normally see it as reasonable for the property to be sold and you take your share from the proceeds.

Q. My uncle has left his house to me in his will. How long could it take before I am allowed to move in? A. There is arguably the difference between the date on which you are able to move in and the date on which the property is vested in your name. The executors of your uncle's will are responsible for looking after the property during the administration period and it may be advantageous for them to allow you to take responsibility for the property at the earliest opportunity.

It depends on how quickly the Grant of Probate to your late uncle's estate can be obtained by the executors, but provided you undertake to be responsible for all outgoings and costs regarding the property there is no reason why you cannot take occupation as soon as the property has been cleared. This would limit the overall expenses incurred by the estate in maintaining the property until such time as the executors are able to formally vest the property in your name as the beneficiary. You will, of course, have to give the executors an undertaking that you will be responsible for all outgoings and will keep the property in a good state of repair.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 2, 2012
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