Probate can be a headache, particularly as it coincides with us coming to terms with the death of a loved one. Making a Will takes some of the pain out of this process, and administration of testate estates tend to cost less and take less time. However, it remains a task that most people do not relish with any enthusiasm.
If you are the executor (or the administrator) of the estate, here are some suggestions to ease this process:
- Make an inventory: compile the deceased person’s bank books, Post office books, share certificates, title deeds etc. You will need to establish all of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities.
- Contact the various institutions where assets are held to ascertain the value of the accounts and ask if they will require sight of the Grant of Probate before releasing any funds. For example, if the proceeds in a Post Office account amount to less than €6348, they can be released to you upon production of the death certificate, the Will and the Post Office deposit book. You will be asked to sign a form of indemnity which is a type of guarantee that the Post Office will not be held liable if there are other claims on the money.
- Get certain assets valued as of the date of death, such as a house or jewellery or a valuable painting. This information will be required by the Revenue Commissioners for inclusion in the Inland Revenue Affidavit.
- Contact the Department for Social Protection to ascertain if there are any monies due to the estate of the deceased person (or indeed if there have been any overpayments to the estate which will need to be reimbursed).
- Notify the beneficiaries to advise them of their entitlement under the Will or under the rules on intestacy set out in the Succession Act 1965.
- Do not delay: tax liabilities should be paid within the appropriate time set out in the legislation governing inheritance tax as penalties will accrue if they are not paid in time.
- Remember that you have one year to administer the estate: you may find that some beneficiaries are putting pressure on you to get their share of the estate. However, it is more important that you administer the estate properly and in accordance with the law and with the terms of the Will, if any, than to do it in a rush and miss something important which may mean that you are liable for some expense in the future.