When someone dies they may have appointed someone they trust to be the executor of their will. An executors duty carries with it a great deal of responsibility and it is often advisable for a layperson to ask a qualified probate lawyer to oversee the whole process.
Although the deceased person appoints an executor before they die, a Grant of Probate needs to be issued by the Probate Registry in order to give the executor authority to deal with the estate. Once empowered the executor must identify all the assets which have been left behind, often liquidate them, pay off any bills including inheritance tax and thereafter distribute the net estate as the deceased’s will dictates. If the executor has asked a professional person to carry out the executors duties for them, then that person will go through the same process to ensure that the instructions in the deceased person’s will are carried out. It should be mentioned that the executor is personally liable to the beneficiaries in the event of errors or negligence and in any event if the executor behaves fraudulently.
A Grant of Probate is obtained from the Probate Registry only after a particular process is adhered to. The executor of the estate must work out exactly what the deceased has left behind, in terms of total value. All outstanding debts need to be listed. These debts may include 40% inheritance tax if the total value of the estate is above the tax threshold after taking into account the allowances. These figures are then used to complete the forms necessary to apply for a Grant of Probate. The will and the death certificate will also be used to support this application. The proposed executor will then attend the Probate Office to swear an affidavit and to clarify any necessary matters. This interview is not meant to vet the executor nor is it to explain executors duties. Following submission of the application for a grant of probate the Capital Taxes Office will estimate the tax to be paid, if any, and will thereafter consent to the Grant of Probate being issued by the Probate Registry.
Once the Grant of Probate is issued the executors duties start in earnest. The executor (or person acting on their behalf) will pay any debts owed from the proceeds of the estate and then act according to the wishes of the deceased as written in their will to pay any beneficiary their appropriate entitlement.
A Grant of Probate is not necessarily final however, and it can be contested if someone believes that the right decisions regarding the distribution of the deceased estate have not been made. Find more information on
Challenge Will Solicitor.