Can You Sell Jewellery Before Probate is Granted?

Pete Liggins
July 8, 2024
Jewellery is considered a personal item or chattels personal, and it may be possible to sell before probate is granted, particularly if it was owned by the deceased person outright.

 When a loved one passes away, dealing with their estate can be a complex and emotional process. One common question that arises is whether it's possible to sell jewellery before probate is granted.

Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person's estate, which includes identifying and gathering their assets, paying any outstanding debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the rightful beneficiaries. Until probate is granted, the deceased person's assets are still considered part of their estate and cannot be freely accessed or distributed.

In the case of jewellery, the situation can be a bit more nuanced. Jewellery is considered a personal item or chattels personal, and it may be possible to sell before probate is granted, particularly if it was owned by the deceased person outright and not part of a trust or other legal arrangement.

The tax-free threshold set for inheritance tax in an estate is currently £325,000. If the estate clearly falls below this figure, you are free to sell chattels, in this case jewellery, regardless of whether probate has been granted or not. If the value of the estate is likely to be close to, or exceed the inheritance tax threshold, you will need to exercise caution with selling items before probate has been granted.

In both instances you should obtain a professional valuation for any jewellery in the estate beforehand, which must be in line with the Inheritance Tax Act if you are to avoid potential problems later in the process. The HMRC requires any chattels valued at £500 or more to be appraised by an expert, consequently it is the executor’s responsibility to ensure that the appraisal is conducted by a reputable jewellery expert to guarantee accuracy and avoid disputes.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to sell jewellery before probate is granted, it's crucial to work closely with a solicitor or probate specialist to ensure you're acting within the law and protecting the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries. Be sure to keep a record of everything you sell, including relevant valuation reports, dates sold, and prices realised.

Being experts in their fields, the friendly team of probate valuers at Dawsons will provide you with accurate valuation estimates that are suitable for probate and inheritance tax calculation purposes, and they are always on hand with the professional guidance you may need at a stressful time.

All our valuations are fully compliant with HMRC guidelines and in accordance with Section 160 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984. It should be noted that the above does not constitute legal advice, and we always recommend you employ a solicitor to handle the probate process for you.

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