The complexity of the process of administering a deceased person’s estate varies depending on the complexity of the deceased's assets. The process can, however, be broken down into five main phases.
1. Identify the value of the estate
All the deceased’s assets, such as property, bank accounts, investments and possessions will need to be identified, along with their liabilities, such as debts, unpaid bills and outstanding taxes. Once this is complete, you will be able to determine the value of the estate.
2. Apply for a Grant of Representation
In order to obtain the legal authority to administer an estate, you will need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Representation. At this stage, you will also be required to submit an Inheritance Tax account and pay any applicable Inheritance Tax.
3. Collecting in the assets and discharging the liabilities
After you have obtained the Grant of Representation, you will be able to sell, transfer or encash the deceased's assets and settle any outstanding liabilities. You will then need to pay administration expenses and any further tax which may be due, such as Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax.
4. Preparing estate accounts
You will then be required to prepare accounts, showing all monies into and out of the estate and showing the remaining sum left for payment to beneficiaries of the estate.
5. Distributing the assets
The final stage of the process is to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries of the estate. This should include obtaining relevant ID and conducting bankruptcy searches.
6. Can I apply for a Grant of Representation myself or do I need a Solicitor to assist me
Executors are personally liable for any acts or omissions conducted by them which cause loss to the estate. This is the case whether those acts or omissions were made in good faith or not. Whilst it is possible to apply for a Grant of Representation personally, the role of an Executor is an onerous one and it may be prudent to seek legal advice to mitigate the risks involved. See our article Why use a solicitor for further information.