Probate and Wills Probate: What is it?

What is it?

Probate: What is it?

A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Probate and Wills: What is it?

Probate is the process involved in proving a deceased persons will, collecting in their assets, distributing same to the beneficiaries and producing estate accounts.

The steps involved in taking out a grant of probate and administering an estate are as follows:

Why take out a Grant Of Probate?

When someone dies testate their property technically passes into the hands of the executors.  However in order to access money the executors must apply to the Probate office and obtain a Court Order called a Grant of Probate. This Order allows the executors to collect in the assets of the estate, sell any property and divide it among the beneficiaries.

Find the Will.

In order to take out a Grant of Probate the first thing that must be done is locate the original will of the deceased. Usually it will be in the Solicitors office where it was made or in the deceased’s home. The original will must be located as soon as possible after the deceased’s death.

Ascertain Executors.

Executors will be named in the will. Their duty is to administer the estate of the testator. The task can be quite arduous depending on the size and scope of the testator’s estate.

If no executor is appointed or the executor has predeceased the testator, the estate will be administered by the person who inherits the remainder of the estate left after all debts and gifts have been paid. This person is called the residuary legatee/devisee.

Obtain a Death Certificate.

The death must be registered with the Registrar of Births Marriages and Deaths. At least 4 copies the death certificate should be obtained.

Instruct your Solicitor.

The executor will either instruct a Solicitor or if the estate is straightforward make a personal application to the Probate Office.

Ascertain assets and liabilities.

The Solicitor for the estate needs to obtain valuations of all assets in the estate as of the date of death, including:

  1. all bank accounts
  2. valuations for shares
  3. property valuation

The deceased’s bank accounts will be frozen until the Grant of Probate issues. The one exception is access to funds to pay the deceased’s funeral bill.

The beneficiaries must supply their names and addresses and have or obtain an Irish PPS No.

It must be remembered that property held under joint accounts is often not included in the deceased’s estate. The principle of survivorship applies to such property. This principle arises where two or more people own something jointly. On the death of one joint owner, his interest automatically passes to the survivor, outside of the will and the estate. This is very common with married couples. If the property is owned by one person but held in two names then it will form part of the estate. This occurs for example where a parent places a child’s name on a bank account for the parent’s convenience.

Make a return to the Revenue Commissioners.

Once all the assets and liabilities of the estate have been ascertained a return to the Revenue Commissioners must be made. This form is called a CA24 or Inland Revenue Affidavit. It is important that it is completed with the utmost care and honesty as the form is a sworn statement and it will be scrutinised by the Revenue Commissioners. It is then lodged with and forms part of the application to the Probate Office.

Apply to the Probate Office.

The next step is to actually apply to the Probate Office for a Grant of Probate. This will include the submission of a number of forms along with the original will. The most important document is the Oath for Executor, under which the executor shows his entitlement to extract the Grant and swears to administer the estate in accordance with law. All documents lodged will be examined thoroughly by the Probate Office. If everything is in order the Probate Office will issue a Grant of Probate after 15 weeks. This time period varies depending on the workload of te Probate Office. A Grant of Probate is a Court Order allowing the executor the power to administer the estate.

Administer the Estate.

With the Grant of Probate the executor can now proceed to collect in the assets of the deceased and sell any property.
The executor will now discharge any debts and pay the beneficiaries.

Estate Accounts.

The executor must by law furnish Estate Accounts to the beneficiaries giving a true and fair account of the assets and liabilities of the estate.

John Griffin

John Griffin

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