Probate and the Administration of Estates


When a person dies, everything he/she owned except assets where ownership ceases on death or passes
automatically is referred to as the deceased’s “estate”. After payment of debts and taxes, the “estate” is
divided among the beneficiaries in accordance with the deceased’s Will or if there is no Will, among the
closest relatives in accordance with rules set out in the Succession Act. The rules relating to the distribution
of estates also provides for civil partners as the relevant legislation was commenced in January 2011.


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 a Will but no executor, or where there is no will, the law
provides who among the deceased’s beneficiaries or closest living relatives is entitled to deal with the estate;
this person is called an administrator.

The functions of the personal representative involve:
•     Protecting the assets of the estate, e.g. making sure that everything is properly insured.
•     Taking reasonable steps to secure property and valuables.
•     Arranging lists of property and valuables and arranging for valuations of all property which was owned
      by the deceased including land, shares, bank accounts etc.
•     Finding out what debts have to be paid.
•     Obtaining all other information necessary to obtain the legal documents which will allow the executor
      or administrator to deal with the estate.

A ‘grant of representation’ is the legal document which issues from the High Court Probate Office which
allows the personal representative(s) to collect all assets of the deceased and administer the estate.
Where the person(s) named as executor under the will extract a grant of representation such document is
known as a Grant of Probate.
Where somebody other than the executors extract the Grant, the legal document is known as a Grant
of Administration with Will Annexed. Where there is no Will, it is known as a Grant of Administration
Intestate. Until the Grant of Representation issues from the Probate Office, the personal representatives are
generally unable to deal with the assets owned by the deceased person. In limited circumstances, it may be
possible to administer an estate without obtaining a grant.

•     It is necessary to go through the deceased’s papers (Bank/Building Society books/statements/insurance
      policies/saving certificates/shares/stocks/title deeds and any other papers which will help to identify the
      assets and liabilities of the estate).
•     Financial institutions will generally release funds to pay for the funeral on receipt of certain
      documentation from the personal representatives.
•     The insurance cover on property or other valuable assets should be checked.
•     Practical steps may involve removing valuables, turning off the mains water, installing additional locks/
      window locks/alarm, informing neighbours, the insurance company and the local Garda Station that the
      house is unoccupied.
•     Valuations must be obtained setting out the value of all the assets and liabilities of the estate at the date
      of death.
•     It should be ascertained whether or not the deceased availed of the Fair Deal Scheme under the Nursing
      Home Support Scheme Act 2009.
•    Tax liabilities must be dealt with.