When a person dies questions arise as to who is entitled to inherit, who may access bank accounts, and who is the correct person to look after the affairs of the deceased person. Probate is the legal process to gain authority gather in and distribute the assets of a deceased person. The language used in probate is quite technical and may be unfamiliar, so I have created a glossary of some of the terms used. I hope it is of some help.
The first step is establishing who may apply for a grant of probate. If the deceased person has made a valid will, this document will most likely name an executor (or more than one executors). This person is the person whom the deceased person has trusted to look after his or her final affairs.
If the deceased person has not made a will the personal representative will not be making an application for a grant of probate, but for a grant of Letters of Administration. This authority from the High Court allows the personal representative to look after the final affairs of a deceased person who has not made a will.
The executor may decline to act or may be unable to act, but if they do choose to act they have a responsibility to the estate and to the beneficiaries to:
- Pay funeral expenses
- Identify and calculate the assets and liabilities of the deceased person
- Notify Revenue of the assets and liabilities, as well as the personal details of the beneficiaries
- Apply for a Grant of Probate
- Gather in the assets of the deceased (and if appropriate sell the assets or call in debts owed to the deceased)
- After the payment of debts, distribute the assets as per the instructions in the will or following the rules of intestacy.
This should all be done is a quick a timeframe, as possible. For that reason, and because some of the requirements of an executor are quite obscure, most people choose to instruct a solicitor to take care of the probate process. Solicitors have trained to navigate the probate process, and find the smoothest route. The solicitor and the executor will remain in touch throughout the process, and the solicitor can advise the executor where to seek required information and can act on behalf of the executor in administering the estate.
The above is provided for information purposes and is not intended as legal advice. We, at Fitzsimons Redmond, would be happy to talk to you about making a will, reviewing a will or dealing with the estate of a deceased person. Please contact us on 01-676 3257.
By Lisa Quinn O’Flaherty
Partner at Fitzsimons Redmond