Administering an Estate

We will advise personal representatives on their legal duties and responsibilities and beneficiaries in relation to the terms of a Will. A personal representative can be either an “executor” or “administrator”. Executors are the persons named in the will to deal with the estate. Where there is no will however the person is deemed to have died “intestate” and in those circumstances one or more of the closest living relatives are entitled to deal with the estate and this person or persons are called the administrator(s). The function of the personal representative involves the protection of assets of the Estate, taking reasonable steps to secure property and valuables, arranging lists of property and valuables and arranging for valuations of property and shares etc., finding out what debts have to be paid and obtaining all other information necessary to obtain the legal documents which will allow the executor or administrator to deal with the Estate.

The personal representative should make decisions in consultation with the beneficiary insofar as it is practical.

It will be necessary for the personal representative to go through the deceased papers including bank statements, insurance policies, savings certificates, share certificates, title deeds and any other papers which will help to identify all of the assets and liabilities of the Estate. Any insurance cover on property or other valuable assets should be checked to ensure that they remain in force. Valuations will need to be obtained setting out the value of all of the assets and liabilities of the Estate at the date of death and all tax liabilities will also need to be dealt with. Practical steps may involve the removal of valuables from a property and letting the insurance company and local Gardai know if the house is unoccupied. Our office however will advise fully on all of the steps which the personal representative will need to undertake and we will assist in every aspect of the administration.

It will take approximately four months before a grant of representation issues but it can take longer depending on the size of the Estate and the time it takes to get all of the detailed information required to complete an Inland Revenue Affidavit, the availability of PPS numbers which will be required for not alone the deceased party but also all of the beneficiaries and the availability of details of previous gifts and inheritances from the beneficiaries.

A funeral grant may be available where the deceased made PRSI contributions. If the deceased receives non contributory pensions or receives non contributory benefits it may be necessary to send the Inland Revenue Affidavit to the Department to find out whether or not the Department intends to claim back money which was paid to the deceased to which they may not have been entitled. A refund may be due to the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. Our firm will assist and advise however in relation to all of these issues.

In addition, apart from any taxes due by the deceased before his or her death, clearance should be obtained in respect of income tax and capital gains tax which may have arisen during the administration of the Estate (as otherwise the personal representative would be personally liable). Inheritance tax may also be payable by certain beneficiaries if they exceed the exemption limits. There are complicated rules where there have been previous gifts and inheritances received by a beneficiary either from the deceased or any other source in a similar tax category and our firm will advise the personal representative fully in relation to this. There may also be probate tax payable if the death occurred prior to 6th December 2000.

When there is no will the estate is distributed in accordance with the Succession Act which provides –

  1. Where there is a spouse and no issue (“issue” meaning children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.), the spouse takes the whole estate.
  2. If there is a spouse and issue, the spouse takes two thirds and the other one third goes to the issue. If a child of the deceased dies before the deceased but leaves children, then the grandchildren take their parent’s share.
  3. If there is no spouse, then the issue takes the whole estate. If a child of the deceased dies before the deceased but leaves children, then the grandchildren take their parents’ share.
  4. If there is no spouse or issue, the estate is distributed between the deceased’s parents in equal shares. If only one parent is alive, that parent takes the whole estate.
  5. If there is neither spouse, nor issue nor parent, the estate is distributed between brothers and sisters in equal shares. If any brother/sister dies before the deceased but leaves children, then those children take their parents’ shares.
  6. If the closest living relatives are nephew and nieces, the estate is distributed equally between them.
  7. Where there are no nephews/nieces or closer living relatives then the estate is distributed in equal shares among the next of kin.
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