Dealing with a deceased person’s money and property (2023)

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  • Introduction
  • Executor or administrator?
  • Do I need a solicitor?
  • How to make a personal applicationfor probate or letters of administration
  • What are the duties of executors andadministrators?
  • Can I get a copy of a will?
  • Further information and contacts


Here we explain the process of administering a deceased person's estate inIreland, including:

  • Executors and administrators
  • Probate
  • Transferring land
  • Tax
  • Beneficiaries abroad
  • Debts

Our document ‘Whathappens to the deceased’s estate?’ has information about:

  • Rights of access to the deceased person's estate
  • Rights of spouses/civil partners and family members
  • What happens if the deceased person has not made a will

If there is a will and an executor has been appointed, then the executordeals with the estate. This means that they make sure that the spouse/civilpartner is aware of the right to a legal right share and distributes the estatein accordance with the will and the law.

If there is no will,or, if there is a will but there is no executor, an administrator is appointed- usually the next of kin or a solicitor.

You can read more about the practical concerns you may have when someoneclose to you dies in Bereavement– A practical guide (PDF).

Executor or administrator?

In order to get authority to administer the estate you must get a legaldocument called a Grant of Representation. This is a legalorder that gives you the authority to administer the deceased person'sestate.

If the deceased person left a will

The person who deals with the estate is called the deceased person's'executor'. The executor needs to take outProbate.

What is probate?

Taking out probate means having theProbate Office or the appropriate DistrictProbate Registry certify that:

  • The will is valid
  • All legal, financial and tax matters are in order

Wills only take effect when the Probate Office accepts that the will isvalid. The will is said to have been ‘proved’. The Probate Officemay make some enquiries before making its decision, for example, it may requirea sworn affidavit from one or both of the witnesses

If there is no will

The person who deals with the deceased person’s estate is called an‘administrator’. An administrator may also be appointedif:

  • There is a will but no executor has been appointed
  • The appointed person cannot act as executor
  • The executor cannot or will not carry out their duties

The administrator needs to take out a Letter of Administration (ora Letter of Administration with Will Annexed if there is a will).

Usually, the next of kin applies for a grant of administration. Priority isgiven in the following order:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Brother or sister
  • More distant relative

The Probate Registrar will make a decision if there is doubt about who isentitled to be the administrator. The administrator must give an administrationbond to the Probate Office - this is a sort of guarantee that you will carryout your duties properly.

The duties of the executor and administrator are broadly the same. If youare not sure about these roles, you should get legal advice from a solicitor– see ‘Do I need a solicitor?’ below.

What if I object to a grant of probate or a letter of administration?

Any person may oppose a grant of probate or a letter of administration. Ifyou have an objection, you can object (called lodging a caveat)to the appropriate District Probate Registry or at the Probate Office.

Do I need a solicitor?

If the estate is complex, it may be better to appoint a solicitor.

A solicitor can complete the forms that are needed and give you adviceon:

  • 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 the deceased person owned

If you decide not to use a solicitor, you can make a personal application toadminister the estate (see ‘How to make a personal application for probate orletters of administration’ below for information on how to do this).

The Probate Office will help with the probate process part of administeringthe estate. It cannot give you legal advice and you are responsible forcompleting the documentation you need.

You must use a solicitor if:

  • The person entitled to get the Grant of Representation is a ward of court or of unsound mind
  • The persons entitled to get the Grant of Representation is under 18
  • There are issues concerning the validity of the will
  • There are disputes among the next of kin about the estate
  • The original will is lost
  • A beneficiary of the will of more than €20,000 (apart from the spouse of the deceased) lives outside of Ireland and you also live outside of Ireland
  • The deceased person lived outside of Ireland and nobody who lives in Ireland is entitled to get a Grant of Representation
  • The deceased person lived outside Ireland and left a will in foreign language
  • There are other circumstances which, in the opinion of the Probate Office, need the assistance of a solicitor

How to make a personal applicationfor probate or letters of administration

To make a personal application you must attend in person. At any stage inthis process the Probate Office or Registry may decide that a solicitor isneeded to administer the estate of the deceased’s person.

You can follow this step by step guide to making a personal application:

Step 1 – Statement of Affairs (Probate) Form SA2

The SA2 is a Revenue form that must be completed online through either MyAccount or ROS. To make an application you will need:

  • Personal details of the deceased person (including their PPS number)
  • The applicant’s details
  • Details of the beneficiaries, including the value of their inheritances and their PPS numbers
  • Details of the deceased person’s assets (the things they owned) and liabilities (debts and things they owe money for) at the time of their death
  • Information on assets passing outside the will or intestacy
  • The will if there is one
  • Codicils (changes) to the will, if there are any
  • Copy of any previous Grants of Representation if somebody else made an application before you (this is called a De Bonis Non or Secondary Grant)

If a beneficiary does not have a PPS number because they live abroad, theyshould contact the Client Identity Services (CIS) section of the Department ofSocial Protection using the CIS secureonline request form or by phone at 0818 927 999 or (071) 967 2616.

When the form is completed and submitted, you will receive a Notice ofAcknowledgement (Probate) Form. You must print this and include it with yourPersonal Application Form

Step 2 – The Personal Application Form

You must complete the PersonalApplication Form and send it to the District Probate Registry or theProbate Office in Dublin (see ‘Further information and contacts’ below).You must include:

  • The original death certificate (or a Coroner’s Interim Certificate of death if you have not received a death certificate yet)
  • A photocopy of the will and codicils if there are any (do not send the original will)
  • If the deceased person lived outside of Ireland, you should also send a Court Sealed and Certified copy of the Grant of Representation and will (if there is one) which was issued by the country where the deceased person lived

The Probate Office or Registry may contact you to ask for more informationor documentation. Once the Probate Office or Registry has everything it needsto proceed with your application, you will be given an appointment to meet withan official at the Probate Office or Registry.

Step 3 – Attending your appointment

You must attend the appointment in person. Your appointment will take placein private. You do not have to appear in a courtroom.

You must bring the following with you:

  • Your photo ID
  • The original will and codicils if there are any

The Probate official will look at your documents and may ask you somequestions. They cannot give you legal advice. Another appointment may have tobe scheduled if there are queries that cannot be settled at the firstappointment. The official may ask you to withdraw your personal application andin some cases may tell you to get a solicitor to make the application on yourbehalf.

You will make an oath or affirmation before the official confirming all thedetails of your application are true.

The Probate Office or Registry will send you a Grant of Representation bypost. This usually takes around 3 weeks.

Probate fees

Probate fees are higher for personal applications than those made by asolicitor on your behalf. The Probate fee is calculated based on the net valueof the estate:.

Probate fees for personal applications
Value of estate less thanFee
€1,000,000 (1 million)€1,300

Where the estate is valued at more than €1 million, the fee is increasedby €800 for every €500,000.

For example, if the value of the estate is €1.6 million,the fee would be:

  • First €1 million: €1,300.
  • Remaining €600,000 – the fee is €800 for every €500,000. The amount left over is assessed as another €800.
  • The total fee is €2900.

All of the fees listed above are for personal applications only. If you aremaking an application through a solicitor, the fees are half of those listedabove. Your solicitor will advise you of how much the process will cost intotal.

Otherfees are charged for certificates and affidavits.

What are the duties of executors andadministrators?

You are obliged to distribute the assets as soon as possible after thedeath. You may be sued by the beneficiaries if you do not distribute the estatewithin a year.

You have a duty to preserve the assets of the deceased until they aredistributed and to protect the assets from devaluation. For example, you shouldmake sure that all assets are properly insured.

You have the power to:

  • Deal with the estate (for example, to sell it to pay debts or distribute to beneficiaries)
  • Represent the deceased in legal actions and to settle legal actions against the deceased's estate

You must:

  • Gather together and protect all the deceased's assets such as money, shares and property and find out their combined value
  • Call in any outstanding funds due (money owing to the deceased)
  • Pay any debts or taxes owed
  • Pay the funeral expenses
  • Make sure that the spouse (or civil partner) and children know about their legal right share
  • Make sure the entitled beneficiaries or next of kin get what they are entitled to, and that ownership of property is passed on correctly.

If the deceased was receiving social welfare

If the deceased was receiving a social welfare payment, you must inform theDepartment of Social Protection of the death before distributing the estate.This is to allow the Department to reclaim any overpayment of pension that mayhave been made. The Department has 3 months to decide whether or not anoverpayment was made. If you fail to do this, you may be personally responsibleto repay the overpaid amounts. You can read more about social welfarerequirements in the Department'sdocument on overpayment recovery.

Capital Acquisition Tax

The executor or administrator does not have to deduct and pay the CapitalAcquisitions Tax (CAT) due from the beneficiaries before passing on theproceeds of the will to the beneficiaries. When probate has been granted, theProbate Office sends a copy of the Revenue Affidavit to the RevenueCommissioners.

The Revenue Commissioners will then issue a Form IT38 to each beneficiarywho it understands may have a requirement to pay and file a CAT return. Theobligation to pay and file a return rests with the beneficiary. See Revenue's Guide tocompleting the IT38 return.

Beneficiaries living abroad

Someone who is a beneficiary under an Irish will has to supply a PersonalPublic Service (PPS) number before a grant of probate can issue. TheDepartment of Social Protection's Client Identity Services (CIS) provides aRegistration Service for non-resident applicants who cannot attend at adesignated PPS Registration Centre and who need a PPS Number. Client IdentityServices can be contacted using the CIS secureonline request form or by phone at Lo-call 0818 927 999 or (071) 967 2616.

If the deceased dies in debt

If the deceased person dies insolvent or there isn't enough money to meetthe bequests (the items left to someone in a will) made, payments fromthe estate are prioritised in the following order:

  1. Funeral, testamentary and administration expenses. Testamentary and administration expenses are the expenses incurred in dealing with your estate
  2. Creditors who have security against the property of the deceased for example mortgage providers.
  3. Preferential debts – these are mainly taxes and social insurance contributions due at the deceased person’s death.
  4. All other creditors.

Where the deceased person dies in debt, creditors can only bring a claimagainst the estate of the deceased. Even if there isn't enough money in theestate to meet all the debts, the relatives of the deceased are not personallyresponsible for the deceased's debts (unless, of course they had guaranteedthem).

You can read more about whathappens to debts after death.

Can I get a copy of a will?

Once a grant of probate (or letters of administration) has been issued,anybody can apply for copies of the grant and the will using FormPAS1 (.doc). The grant sets out the name and address of the executor oradministrator of the estate and the name of the solicitor acting on theirbehalf (if any). It also sets out the gross value and the net value of theestate.

Detailed information about the estate is not normally available to thegeneral public, however, certain people may be able to inspect the InlandRevenue Affidavit. They include:

  • A beneficiary who is named in the will
  • Someone who is entitled to a share of the estate
  • A child who is entitled to bring proceedings against the estate under Section 117 of the Succession Act 1965

Information ongetting a copy of a will is available on the Courts Service website as wellas in the information notes of Form PAS1.

Further information and contacts

The Law Society of Ireland has published a guideon the administration of estates for solicitors.

Questions about taxation and the deceased person's estate should beaddressed to:

Questions about probate issues should be addressed to your districtProbate Office or:

Page edited: 15 November 2022

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You can also contact your local Citizens Information Centre.

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