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Probate/Administration of Estates

If you are called on to administer the estate of someone who has passed away there is often a lot to deal with at this already difficult time.  If the deceased died leaving a Will the application for a Grant of Probate must be made and if there is no Will the process is carried out on the basis of “intestacy”.

By way of summary administration of an estate falls into the following main stages:-

Preliminary

Generally speaking the following preliminary steps are taken:-

Identify whether there is a valid Will in existence

If so whether it contains any requests in relation to the funeral

Register the death

Collect together the deceased’s papers and establish details of the assets/liabilities and income of the deceased

Verification

Write to all asset holders (such as banks) and verify the financial position. At this time the deceased’s assets (save for joint accounts which pass automatically to the surviving holder) are frozen.

Write to any beneficiaries named in the Will or if there is no Will make enquiries as to the order of relatives entitled to benefit from the estate under the Intestacy Rules.

The Executor’s legal authority derives from the Will and an Order of the Court known as a “Grant of Probate”.

Where there is no Will, the Administrator’s authority derives from an Order of the Court known as a “Grant of Letters of Administration”.

Asset holders will (save in the case of very small estates) not distribute assets without having sight of the Grant.

In order to apply for a Grant the Executor/Administrator must attend and sign certain documentation which will be forwarded to the Probate Office so as to extract the appropriate Grant. We will also at this stage calculate and advise as to any liabilities for Inheritance Tax.

Post Grant

Once the Grant has been issued by the Probate Registry the distribution of the estate can commence and set out below are issues that may need to be considered.

Withdrawing money from bank accounts and closing of account.

Sale or distribution of property between beneficiaries.Filing of Inheritance Tax returns and dealing with any other tax issues.

Obtain clearance from the Department of Social Protection and Family Affairs so as to ensure there has been no under or over payment of income to the deceased.

Winding up

Generally speaking once “clearance” has been obtained from the tax authorities the estate may be distributed which involves preparation of final estate accounts verifying the assets in the estate, setting out all income received during the administration and all payments made for payments of debts, tax and distribution to the beneficiaries.