Legal Q&A:should we sell a recently inherited house to interested locals?

My aunt died recently, leaving her home to my mother and a younger sister. They have already been contacted by interested locals and want to sell. Should they contact these people and should they use the solicitors who dealt with my aunt's will?

Question: My aunt, my mother’s sister, died recently, leaving her home to Mum and a younger sister. The two of them took at look at it over the weekend. It is very run down but it is in a wonderful position on a cliff top in Cornwall. 

They were amazed to find two letters already at the house, addressed to them as executors. One was from someone who lives in the neighbouring village and the other was from a buying agent. Both are interested in purchasing the house.  

Mum and her sister want to sell because they don’t want all the renovation work. Should they contact these people? And should they use the solicitors who dealt with my aunt’s will?

Answer: Your mother and her sister, as executors, can instruct the law firm that holds your aunt’s will to act on their behalf in the administration of the estate — or they may use another law firm of their choice. They should apply as executors for the issue of a Grant of Probate and they will need to have your aunt’s estate valued.  

With regard to the letters, it is not unusual for people who know of a deceased person’s property, particularly if it is a desirable one, to contact the executors to register an interest should it become available for sale. Your mother should establish what the prospective buyers have in mind — including the price they may offer, if they can proceed without having to sell a property, and whether they intend buying for cash. If the house is sold privately, there will be no estate agent’s commission to pay. 

If your mother and her sister instruct a solicitor to act on their behalf in connection with the administration of the estate, they should keep that representative informed of any negotiations regarding the sale of the property.


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