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. If there is no Will, the process is carried out on the basis of “intestacy”.
Administration of an estate generally falls into the following stages:
- Identify if there is a valid Will in existence
- If so, identify if 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
Write to all asset holders (such as banks) and verify the financial position. At this time, the deceased’s assets (except 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 (except 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 to extract the appropriate Grant. We will also at this stage calculate and advise on any liabilities for Inheritance Tax.
Once the Grant has been issued by the Probate Registry, the distribution of the estate can commence. As follows are the issues that may need to be considered:
- Withdrawing money from bank accounts and closing of accounts
- Sale or distribution of property between beneficiaries.
- Filing of Inheritance Tax returns and dealing with any other tax issues.
- Obtain clearance from the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Social Protection and Health Service Executive (where the deceased had been a resident in a Nursing Home and in receipt of State Support) to ensure there has been no under or over payment of income to the deceased and that there are no other liabilities of the estate.
Generally speaking, once “clearance” has been obtained from the tax authorities, the estate may be distributed and this 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 debts, tax and distribution to the beneficiaries.