The Taylor&Emmet Blog

How purchasing from a deceased estate can complicate matters

GET IT RIGHT FIRST TIME: Sarah is here to help first time buyers get to grips with the conveyancing process. This month she explains how purchasing from a deceased estate can complicate matters…

I’ve just found out the owner of the property I want to buy has died. What will happen to my purchase?

When you’ve viewed numerous homes, agonised over their pros and cons, then finally agreed a deal, it is heart breaking if your purchase is jeopardised by something like an unforeseen death.

Assuming you wish to continue with the transaction, you will now be buying from the owner’s estate. To enable the sale to continue, your solicitor will request a copy of a legal document, known as a Grant of Representation, which is issued to the relatives of the deceased by the Probate Registry to confirm they have authority to sell the property. Unfortunately, due to regulation changes, these are taking longer than normal to be issued at the moment and it could delay your completion by several months.

You need to be aware the information that is likely to be available about issues, rights or covenants affecting the property may be limited, as the parties acting for the deceased have probably never lived there. Likewise, instruction booklets and details about services may be missing, which could mean some additional work if you want completion to go smoothly. It could also be the case that it will be ‘sold as seen’ increasing your costs, if you need to arrange to have it cleared.

Obviously, the upside of buying from a deceased estate is that there will be no onward chain affecting the transaction. This should make it easier to agree a completion date, as it will only need to suit you and the sellers.

My elderly mother died recently and I have been tasked with selling her property. What will this entail?

When selling a property on behalf of a deceased estate, make sure you have all the paperwork necessary to proceed, to avoid any unnecessary delays that may put off a potential purchaser.

Firstly, you need to have the appropriate Grant of Representation in place. You can market the property without it, but as I mentioned above, it can take time to be issued and you don’t want a potential buyer withdrawing their offer.

Make sure you have all deeds and documents ready to give to your solicitor once a sale has been agreed. It may be advisable to meet with your conveyancer before putting the property on the market, so they can review the paperwork you have available, ensure everything is in place and check whether the title is registered.

If your mother’s property has been in her ownership for many years, the title may not be recorded with the Land Registry and therefore, it is essential to locate the deeds. Without them, the sale cannot be progressed from a legal point of view.

I understand you probably have limited knowledge of the house, but it is important to complete the information forms to the best of your ability. Your solicitor can help obtain any missing details that will be needed to allow the sale to progress.

Finally, try to give yourself enough time to empty the property of everything and potentially clean it prior to completion, as this could be a large task. You can either do this yourself, contact various charities or employ a house clearance company. You will also need to ensure adequate insurance is in place, as now your mother’s home is unoccupied the existing policy could be void.

If you are a first-time buyer with a question about moving home, our residential property expert, Sarah Gaunt, would love to hear from you. Email:

Sarah Gaunt

Sarah is a partner in our residential conveyancing department and is accomplished in all areas of the discipline. For more information on this topic email or call her on 0114 218 4060.

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