Coping with the death of a close family member or friend is understandably difficult and, at a time of loss, there are a number of practicalities that need to be dealt with more quickly than others. The initial steps that should be taken immediately after someone dies are:
1Register the Death and obtain the Death Certificate
To register a death in Ireland, one must submit a completed Death Notification Form to a branch of the Civil Registration Service. Part 1 of the Death Notification Form will be provided to a family member or friend by the hospital or the doctor who attended to the deceased during their final stages of their life.
The next of kin will complete part 2 of the Death Notification Form and this must be signed in the presence of a registrar. The death should be registered as soon as possible and no later than 3 months from the date of death. When the death is registered you can then apply for a copy of the death certificate which costs €40 per copy from www.birthsdeathsmarriages.ie.
Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, the registering of a death is slightly different, you can see the temporary procedure here.
2The Deceased’s Will
It is important to locate the deceased’s last original Will at an early stage so that appropriate funeral arrangements can be made and beneficiaries are aware of specific clauses which might take effect from the date of death for tax purposes. It is generally not advisable to disclose the contents of a Will (other than specific clauses naming specific beneficiaries) until the Will has been admitted to Probate.
Unlike most other European countries there is no central wills register in Ireland. A friend or family member in search of a deceased’s Will, will usually need to make enquiries with local solicitors and if circumstances require, publish notices in local newspapers and the Law Society gazettes. Most solicitors advise clients who make a Will to leave the original with their firm for safe keeping and to notify those named as executors where it is. However, some clients prefer to take the original will with them. It is therefore also important to search the deceased’s house or any other place s/he is likely to have kept the Will and to make enquiries with people whom the deceased is likely to have appointed executors.
If there is no valid Will or the deceased died without making a will this is known as dying “intestate”.
3Plan the Funeral
Whilst any family member may take on the role of organising a funeral, the ultimate duty falls on the legal personal representative which may be an executor named in the Will or the deceased’s next of kin if there is no Will. If a Will was executed, the deceased may have specified the funeral arrangements in that document. However, the provisions of a Will in this regard impose a moral duty on a personal representative only, and not a legal one. Therefore, whilst disputes regarding funeral arrangements are hugely distressing for those involved, recourse to the Courts is not considered available.
Due to prevailing public health issues there are a number of restrictions with regards to planning a funeral which are available to view here. These limitations are expected to lift soon.
4Notify the Executors
If the Deceased made a Will, in most cases, s/he will have named executors to administer the estate. If there is no will or no named executors an administrator can be appointed, which is usually the deceased’s next of kin.
The executor can then choose whether or not to appoint a solicitor. This decision is usually based on the size and complexity of the estate.
5Ascertain Assets and Liabilities of the Estate (including taxes)
The next step is for the executor to ascertain all the assets and liabilities of the estate both in Ireland and elsewhere. This includes all property, bank accounts and expenses such as credit card payments, funeral expenses etc. If the deceased held property outside of Ireland, it is important to know the tax implications of the death in each country and if/when inheritance tax needs to be paid at an early stage.
6Notify Government Departments and Pension Service Providers
It is important to notify Government Departments and Pension Service Providers of the death as soon as possible.
7Apply for the Grant of Probate
The next step is to apply for a Grant of Representation, a Grant of Representation is a Court-issued document which gives authority to the executor/s or administrator/s to administer an estate in Ireland. An application for the Grant of Representation includes submitting a number of documents to the Probate Office. A Grant of Representation is not required in an estate where all of the assets and property within the estate are in joint names. A Grant of Representation is also not required if the deceased’s estate comprised solely of cash of less than €25,000.
8Administer the Estate
Once the Grant of Probate is received the estate can then be administered.
At Amorys Solicitors, we can assist you with either applying for a Grant of Representation (including a Grant of Probate), or administering an estate after someone dies. We tailor the work according to your needs to ensure that the process is completed as smoothly as possible.
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