Most people prefer not to dwell on their own death—but it’s essential that you consider this, and draw up a will to ensure that your loved ones and interests are accounted for. Many choose to do so with the help of probate solicitors. Probate solicitors such as Hanahoe & Hanahoe possess the expertise and experience to assist you in drafting the appropriate wills to ensure your wishes are adhered to. We can also assist your loved ones in extracting the Grant of Probate. Regardless of whether you are experiencing a bereavement or simply wishing to get your affairs in order, speaking to expert probate solicitors like Hanahoe & Hanahoe should be your first port of call.
Table of Contents
- What is the probate of a will?
- Who is the executor of a will?
- Probate law in Ireland
- Probate solicitors’ fees
- Types of grants issued by the Probate Office
- Frequently asked questions
- What does a probate solicitor do?
- How long after probate can funds be distributed in Ireland?
- How long does probate take in Ireland?
- What are the rights of beneficiaries of a will in Ireland?
- Can an executor sell property without all beneficiaries approving in Ireland?
- Can an executor benefit from a will in Ireland?
- What happens if there is property in another country?
- Do I need a solicitor for probate?
- Do I have to instruct the same solicitor who drafted the will to take out the Grant of Probate?
- Can you change solicitors during probate?
- Who pays solicitors fees for probate?
- What is Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT)?
- How are the funeral expenses paid?
- What is the power of attorney?
- What is the difference between a General Power of Attorney and an Enduring Powers of Attorney?
What is the probate of a will?
Probate is the legal process of “proving” that a will is valid. It is often required to ensure that the deceased’s estate is distributed according to their wishes, as outlined in their will. Taking out a Grant of Probate is required for all estates worth over €25,000, or for estates including a house, land, or shareholdings. If there are no assets, or the deceased’s estate is held jointly as joint tenants, this can be managed under the Small Estates Procedure rather than probate.
The will also nominates the executor. The executor is the person(s) appointed to access and release the estate to the beneficiaries (the inheritors). Probate involves the executor applying for a Grant of Representation, which gives them the authority to unfreeze and gather the deceased’s assets, pay any debts and funeral expenses, and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. Probate is a process intended to protect the interests of the beneficiaries and the wishes of the deceased.
Who is the executor of a will?
In Ireland, probate law requires that the executor be responsible for the affairs and obligations associated with the deceased and their estate. This ensures that their interests are safeguarded and in line with legal requirements.
If you’ve drawn up a will, the person you notify about this is often the executor. Once the most recent copy of the will is located, the executor(s) named must be contacted and asked if they are willing and able to act. If they are unable to undertake the estate administration process, they must renounce their role as executor with an administrator assigned in their place. Executors and administrators are both referred to as “personal representatives”.
What is the executor of a will’s duties?
As the executor or administrator of a will, you have a duty to:
- Deal with the estate within a year, seeing that the deceased’s assets are distributed in alignment with probate law and the will.
- Represent the deceased in any legal proceedings.
- Call on any outstanding funds owed to the deceased.
- Ensure that debts, taxes and funeral expenses are accounted for.
Probate law in Ireland
Applications for probate in Ireland are made to the Probate Office or District Probate Registry. There are fourteen District Probate Registries located outside of Dublin; you can find your closest office on courts.ie.
The importance of probate solicitors
An experienced probate solicitor like Hanahoe & Hanahoe can ensure that the Grant of Probate/Grant of Administration is extracted promptly, and the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries without delay. Our probate solicitors will explain the wills and probate process to you fully, notifying and dealing with beneficiaries as we tend to all the matters of the estate.
Here is what our probate solicitors can do for you:
- On taking instruction, one of our probate solicitors will provide you with an easy-to-use checklist of all the information we require to take out the Grant of Representation. This is to ensure matters are expedited as efficiently as possible.
- On receipt of this information, we draft up the necessary documentation and submit your application to the Probate Office. It is essential that this is completed by an experienced probate solicitor, as the Probate Office is quick to query incorrectly submitted applications. This can lead to significant delays as you’re placed in the queue once again.
- Once your application has been submitted, we will give you an estimated timeline for the issuing of the grant. This may vary depending on current backlogs in the Probate Office, but is generally around six weeks.
- Once the grant is issued, we will gather up all the assets of the estate. This will include corresponding with the necessary banks, financial institutions and insurance companies, preparing the necessary contracts for the sale of any properties or shareholdings, realising a life cover policy and taking up all other assets of the estate including shares.
- We will then prepare a detailed Estate Account – setting out all the assets, liabilities and distributions for the executor’s approval.
- Once the Estate Account has been approved, we will distribute the estate to the beneficiaries.
Why choose Hanahoe & Hanahoe solicitors?
At Hanahoe & Hanahoe, our probate team has vast experience in providing legal advice on all areas of estate planning, succession law, wills, and probate administration.
- We have over 40 years of experience dealing with wills, probate law and the administration of estates.
- We are an award-winning law firm (Leinster Law Firm of the Year for 2017 & 2018 at the Irish Law Awards).
- We have offices in Dublin, Naas, Portlaoise and Maynooth, and offer a national service in all probate matters.
- You can be assured that your case will be handled by a specialised and experienced probate solicitor.
- We will ensure that the Grant of Representation is extracted efficiently, with as little inconvenience to the executors as possible.
- You will always be kept up to date on all matters.
- You will receive unambiguous legal advice free of jargon.
- We are competitively priced for the service we provide.
Enter Your Details Below To Request Consultation By Either Phone, Zoom or in Person
Probate solicitors’ fees
When instructing a probate solicitor, it’s important to ensure that you are fully aware of their fees and that there are no hidden costs. Since the executor/administrator and beneficiaries are collectively expected to fund probate solicitors’ fees, it is important that you get a clear quote for this. It will allow everyone to budget without worry for future costs, in an already stressful bereavement period.
At Hanahoe & Hanahoe solicitors, we pride ourselves on being fully transparent in relation to our fees. After a consultation with our probate solicitors, we will be able to provide you with a detailed cost breakdown. In non-complex probate matters we can even provide you with a fixed fee. The expenses associated with your case will completely depend on the complexities that come with it, so it’s best to get in touch with a probate solicitor to further discuss this.
Types of grants issued by the Probate Office
Probate gives authority to the executor to deal with and pass on the deceased assets through a document known as the Grant of Representation. There are three types of Grants, and a deceased estate cannot be handled legally without a Grant of Representation. This gives the executor the authority to access bank accounts, transfer ownership, and sell assets like property, land or shareholdings.
Grant of Probate
When there is a will, and the executor is named, able and willing to act—the executor needs to apply for a Grant of Probate in order to carry out the terms of the will, as specified by the deceased.
If more than one executor exists, both can apply for probate together. If they are unable to do so, other executors named must proceed with probate.
Grant of Administration
When there is no will, you need to apply for a Grant of Administration from the Irish Probate Office. The entitled applicant (known as the administrator) should be determined by the Rules of Intestacy, which determines who inherits what shares. This is generally the deceased’s next of kin; the deceased’s nearest blood relative at the date of death.
Grant of Administration with will annexed
When there’s a will but no executor, or the executor cannot act, you have to apply for a Grant of Administration with will annexed. This application is suitable if:
- The executor appointed has renounced their authority to deal with the estate.
- The will does not name an executor.
- The executor has refused to apply for a Grant of Probate.
- The appointed executor(s) die before the deceased, or before they can apply for probate.
- The executor lives abroad and is unable to travel in order to apply.
- The executor is a minor, of unsound mind, is disabled or does not possess the capacity to administer the estate.
In these situations, the individual entitled to assets leftover once all other beneficiaries have been given their inheritance can apply for the grant and administer the deceased’s estate. If this person dies before the deceased or is not named in the will, Irish probate law states that the next of kin is entitled to this position.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some of the most common questions our probate solicitors hear at Hanahoe & Hanahoe.
What does a probate solicitor do?
A probate solicitor at Hanahoe & Hanahoe will:
- Organise a consultation time to review the will, discuss the complexities of your probate situation, and outline the steps involved in the estate administration process. If there is no will, our probate solicitors will assist you in understanding your rights and obligations under the Succession Act. The Succession Act outlines who stands to inherit.
- Locate and contact the beneficiaries on the executor’s behalf, obtaining PPS numbers and confirming whether they are bankrupt, and whether they received any gifts from the deceased in their lifetime.
- Secure the death certificate and calculate the estate’s value, in order to then prepare the Inland Revenue Affidavit —a document which lists every single one of the deceased’s assets, debts and beneficiaries. This is generally the most difficult part of the probate process, if the deceased did not leave a list of their assets, and can involve a detailed search of their paperwork and possessions. This can be made much easier with the assistance of a probate solicitor, and must be signed in the presence of a commissioner for oaths or a practising solicitor.
- Sign and lodge the relevant probate application form and documentation with either the Central Probate Office or local District Probate Registry. To ensure the Grant of Representation is issued on time, we will answer any follow-up queries from the office.
- Once we receive the probate document, our probate solicitors will assist you in the collection and organisation of the estate—including bank accounts, pensions, and title documents owned by the deceased.
- Ensure that any assets are distributed, as well as any liability payments and bequests. At this stage, the beneficiaries are announced and paid, and ownership of land or properties is transferred.
- The final step is preparing the estate accounts and costs to show how the deceased estate was handled.
How long after probate can funds be distributed in Ireland?
The executor or administrator has a duty to distribute funds and assets within a year of the date of death—this is known as the executor’s year under Irish probate law. If the executor or administrator has confirmed possession of the will, but has not taken action or responded to your correspondence, speak to us. Our team of experienced probate solicitors will advise you on your options, as you may be able to challenge the executor’s actions in court after this point.
How long does probate take in Ireland?
It is difficult to say how long probate takes in Ireland, as every case will be different. Your probate solicitor will be able to estimate a projected time-frame after a consultation. It depends on how quickly the representative completes the pre-application tasks, which can in turn depend on factors like the number of beneficiaries and the difficulties in establishing information required to take out the Grant of Probate. Before probate is granted, one of the delays can be collecting all of the relevant documentation regarding assets and debts. The advice of our probate team and our detailed probate checklist will assist you in this regard. If the Probate Office requires clarification or you are contesting the will or executor’s actions, this can add to the time taken.
What are the rights of beneficiaries of a will in Ireland?
If you’re a beneficiary, you may be wondering what your rights are—especially if you were financially dependent on the deceased and are anxious to receive your inheritance. If the executor takes more than 12 months to administer the deceased’s estate (from the date of death), you have the right to challenge the lack of progress in court. To find out more about your rights as a beneficiary, contact the experienced team of probate solicitors at Hanahoe & Hanahoe.
Can an executor sell property without all beneficiaries approving in Ireland?
The short answer is yes: in certain situations. If there’s no explicit instructions in the will, an executor does have the authority to sell property without approval from all beneficiaries. The notice of sale will be sent to all beneficiaries. Section 50 of the Succession Act allows an executor to sell property when the majority of beneficiaries supports it; an appointed probate referee values the estate assets, including property. If the executor is able to sell real estate assets for over 90 percent of its appraised value, they can proceed with the sale without approval from beneficiaries or the court.
Can an executor benefit from a will in Ireland?
Often, a beneficiary (such as a family member) will be named as the executor. This means that, if a beneficiary, the executor can benefit from the will in Ireland.
What happens if there is property in another country?
Property in a foreign country will not be covered by an Irish Grant of Probate. The first thing that needs to be determined is whether the deceased had a will in that country. Then, one of our probate solicitors should be able to put you in touch with a lawyer in that country who can deal with that portion of the estate.
Do I need a solicitor for probate?
While it is possible to go through probate without a solicitor, it can be very complex. We often receive instruction after the client has lost patience with this process. There are also certain restrictions on making what’s known as a personal application, if the case is complex. This is designed to protect those involved, ensuring that you only proceed in complicated legal matters with the benefit of a probate solicitor’s advice.
Do I have to instruct the same solicitor who drafted the will to take out the Grant of Probate?
No, we are often instructed to take out Grants of Probate where we have not drafted the will.
Can you change solicitors during probate?
Yes, you can change solicitors during probate: though it depends on the discretion of the solicitor you wish to transfer to. While it’s relatively simple to transfer files, not all solicitors will be willing to accept the work of another solicitor up until that point. You should approach your prospective new solicitor and explain that you currently have legal advice—they may require you to pay a fee.
Who pays solicitors fees for probate?
The executors, administrators and beneficiaries pay the solicitors fees for probate. Cost of probate can be a stressful prospect for everyone involved, so it’s important that your solicitor gives you a clear indication of the fees at the start of the process. It is the executor’s responsibility to finalise costs with the solicitor, and notify any beneficiaries of the costs to expect.
What is Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT)?
Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) is a charge on both inheritances and gifts over certain limits. The current rate of CAT for most gains is 33%. CAT will apply where the beneficiary is an Irish resident, the disponer (person leaving the benefit) is an Irish resident, or the inheritance consists of Irish property.
CAT works by way of a tax-free allowance called a ‘threshold’. There are three types of thresholds:
- Son/Daughter €320,000
- Parent/Sibling/Niece/Nephew/Grandchild € 32,500
- Relationship other than Group 1 or 2 € 16,250
This means you are only liable to pay CAT on the proportion of the inheritance that breaches the threshold.
There are a number of exemptions to CAT, such as spousal relief, agricultural relief, business relief, dwelling house relief etc. A good probate solicitor should be able to explain these to you and your likely CAT liability.
How are the funeral expenses paid?
This can often be a huge concern for an executor. However, where the deceased has assets, these can often be paid before the Grant of Probate is administered. If the deceased has sufficient funds in a bank account, the executor will be able to get a bank draft for the funeral expenses, once they have a proper invoice and the death certificate. If necessary, one of our probate solicitors will provide you with a letter to assist in this process.
What is the power of attorney?
Power of Attorney is a legal document wherein you give your attorney the authority to manage all or some of your estate on your behalf. This includes making financial and business decisions. There are two types of power of attorney: general/ordinary and enduring.
What is the difference between a General Power of Attorney and an Enduring Powers of Attorney?
An Enduring Power of Attorney is put in place when the “Donor” is mentally incapacitated, and requires the attorney to take “personal care” of decisions regarding all or some business, property or financial affairs. A General Power of Attorney is put in place when the Donor is out of the country or temporarily unavailable; it is subject to much more relaxed controls and safeguards compared to an Enduring Power of Attorney. When an Enduring Power of Attorney is put in place, families must be notified, for example. You can read more about these differences between General and Enduring Power of Attorney here.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.