Will lighter lockdown mean limbo is eased for probate?

The relaxing of lockdown rules will no doubt be welcome news to many - particularly those currently involved in the buying or selling of property. However, if you are also in the process of probate, an already lengthy process would have been made even longer, thanks to the delays with lockdown.

As the housing market ground to a halt, many people found themselves stuck in limbo. Not only was viewing houses difficult, but the Government also enforced a freeze on several of the associated processes. One of which was surveying property and housing valuations.

For those who were dealing with property as part of probate, this was proving particularly tricky. We heard of a case where someone was acting as an executor of an estate where someone had died, leaving quite a substantial housing portfolio behind. The executor was worried about the portfolio losing value as the housing market started to enter a steep decline and he was keen to hand it over to the investment advisors to manage as soon as possible.

However, under lockdown, he found himself in a vicious circle. The executor was unable to hand over the property to the investment advisors until probate was granted, but this couldn’t be applied for until the home and contents were valued - and that wasn’t possible because businesses were closed.

The easing of lockdown will help this process, as surveyors will be able to start offering valuations again. Probate requirements were not eased during lockdown, leaving many people to wait it out.

Depending on the circumstances, and where inheritance tax is payable, Executors must file an IHT400 form with HMRC as part of the probate process - and that includes a property valuation. If there is no will, the process varies slightly - but it will still be necessary for either the IHT400 or IHT205 form to be completed.

If you are an executor and you’d like some advice about an estate in your care, or you would like some information about wills, probate and Lasting Powers of Attorney documents, contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

Liz Dalgetty

Liz Dalgetty

Consultant Solicitor & Notary Public

Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502251

Office: Dorking Office

Email: l.dalgetty@downslaw.co.uk