Probate is a legal process which gives a person (or a number of people) the authority to deal with a deceased person’s estate. In Ireland, Probate works by making an application to the Probate Office or the District Probate Registry. In the case of a complex Probate case, you should seek the services of an experienced Probate solicitor.
Taking out probate means having the Probate Office, or the appropriate District Probate Registry certify that a Will is valid and legal.
Wills only take effect when the Probate Office accepts that the Will is valid. The Will is said to have been ‘proved’. The Probate Office may make some enquiries before making its decision, for example, it may require a sworn affidavit from one or both of the witnesses.
If Probate is needed following the death of your loved one, you need to establish who is responsible for the process. There are strict rules regarding who can apply for Probate.
If there is a Will, it probably names one or more executors. If these people are able and willing to take up the role, then they must be the ones to apply for a Grant of Probate.
However, there are occasions in which the executors have already died or are no longer able or willing to act. This might happen due to physical or mental ill health, or simply due to personal preference. If so, an administrator must be appointed instead. An administrator must also be appointed if the deceased failed to leave a valid Will in place.
It is impossible to say exactly how long the Probate process will take but usually takes upwards of six months. For many, it will take a year or more. Having a drawn-out Probate process can be very upsetting for those left behind. It can also create difficulties for those responsible for Probate. There is a concept called the “Executor’s Year”. This assumes the executors and administrators of an estate will need at least one year in which to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. However beneficiaries are entitled to question any significant delay and if the beneficiaries have valid concerns about the actions of an executor or administrator, legal action may be started.
A solicitor can complete the many forms that are needed and give you advice on:
- The law on succession
- Taxes that might have to be paid by beneficiaries
- Debts that may have to be paid from the estate
- The deceased’s Will, and can help settle disputes
- Finding out what assets or liabilities are in the deceased person’s estate
Probate is a complex process and so it is better to appoint a solicitor.
NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.