When is a Grant of Probate Required?
What is a Grant of Probate?
A grant of probate is the most common form of grant of representation in Ireland and arises where a Will exists and a particular person has been named as executor to administer the estate. If you are executor of someone’s Will, you are responsible for administering his/her estate. This involves paying any outstanding debts and distributing the estate according to the Will.
If there is a valid Will and someone other than the executor applies to the Probate Office to extract the grant, the grant will be called a Grant of Letters of Administration with Will Annexed.
Is a Grant of Probate Always Necessary?
Not always. If a person dies with no assets a Grant of Probate is not usually required. If the testator (person who has died) only left a small amount of cash, usually less than €25,000, in a bank account or other financial institution in their own name you will not normally require a Grant of Probate to release the funds.
If the testator died leaving assets in joint names with another person those assets will become the property of the surviving owner on the death of the testator and no Grant of Probate will be necessary.
A grant of probate will be required if the testator held land or buildings in his sole name or as tenants in common with another, regardless of its value.
What if there is no will?
The same considerations apply. A grant of representation (in this case, a grant of letters of administration) may not be required if the deceased held cash at a bank of less than €25,000 and owned property jointly (rather than as tenants in common).
If a person dies without a valid Will s/he is said to die intestate and his/her estate is administered according to the rules of intestacy. The next of kin of the deceased will need to extract a Grant of Letters of Administration. Section 71 of the Succession Act 1965 sets out how to determine a deceased person’s next of kin.
How to extract a grant of probate
The first thing to do is locate the original Will. You should check with the testator’s previous solicitor (if any) and close family to find out where the Will is kept as soon as possible. There may be instructions regarding the deceased’s wishes for funeral arrangements kept with the Will.
Read the Will and find out who has been appointed as the executor and then notify the executor. If the executor has pre-deceased the testator, the estate will be administered by an Administrator who is usually the person who inherits the remainder of the estate after all of the bequests under the Will have been distributed. That person is usually called the residuary legatee and devisee. You will also need to obtain the original death certificate.
Do I need a solicitor to take out a Grant of Probate?
It is possible to apply to take out a Grant of Probate without instructing a Solicitor. However, save in the most straight forward of cases, we would strongly recommend an executor to engage an experienced solicitor who is qualified to deal with every aspect of the probate process.
Please see our article on What is Probate for further details.