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Following the death of a loved one, their property must be organised. The property and belongings of a deceased person are referred to as their estate. Who that responsibility falls on depends on whether the deceased left behind a will.

Administering an estate includes managing the bank accounts, any property, personal property, vehicles, pensions and policies of the deceased. Any debts, taxes, and outstanding bills they may have had will also need to be managed. The assets of the deceased will also need to be distributed appropriately.

The administration of an estate following the death of a loved one can be stressful and confusing. Below we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about administering an estate. If you have any further enquiries, please get in touch on 066 712 9782 or

Who Administers The Estate Of A Deceased Family Member?

The person responsible for administering an estate first of all depends on if there is a will or not.

When there is a will, it is typical that the deceased will have named as ‘Executor’ in that will. The Executor can be anyone (over 18) that the deceased chooses, including a relative, friend or solicitor.

When there is no will, then the next of kin becomes the estate’s administrator as default. The Succession Act gives the spouse of the deceased these rights ahead of anyone else. If the spouse is also deceased, then the eldest child of the deceased will take the role. When this is not suitable, the parent of the deceased sibling or then a distant relative may assume control.

In both cases, the family member who is Executor or administrator can engage a solicitor to administer the estate. In these circumstances, the solicitor fee is typically taken from the deceased’s estate on completion of the process.

Whoever assumes control of an estate is required to obtain a legal document to proceed. This will be in the form of a ‘Letter of Administration’ or ‘Probate’ depending on if an executor was appointed.

Who Should I Inform About The Deceased’s Passing

As the Executor or administrator of an estate, you have a list of people to contact. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Family, friends, employers and colleagues (this responsibility is usually shared by the family)
  • Department of Social Community and Family Affairs
  • Insurance providers
  • Revenue
  • Pension providers
  • Financial institutions
  • Membership organisations
  • Doctor
  • Utility providers
  • Mortgage provider/landlord

What Does Administering An Estate Involve?

Administering an estate of a loved one involves a considerable amount of organisation. Especially when there is no will. For much of the process, you will need to have access to the deceased’s death certificate. Many establishments will require this before they can release details to you.

1. You will first be required to identify all assets, such as:

  • Life insurance policies.
  • Pension policies.
  • Bank account information: Collect all bank account, credit union and post office account details. This includes the value of the contents of each.
  • Inform banks, insurance providers, and such that the person has passed.
  • Find details of any shareholdings and investments.
  • List and value miscellaneous assets, such as vehicles, jewellery, art and antiques.
  • Joint assets and the circumstances and status of each one.
  • Debts.
  • Due or overdue bills, including tax and utility bills related to property and vehicles.
  • Gifts that have already been given to beneficiaries of the estate and the value thereof.

You will also need to know the PPS number of not only the deceased but any beneficiaries too. If any beneficiaries live overseas and have no Irish PPS number, then they must apply for one.

2. Once all of this information is gathered and correct, you can submit the probate application.

3. All going well, the probate office will issue a grant of probate or letters of administration.

4. At this stage, assets can be distributed.

What Will I Inherit From The Estate Of A Loved One?

When there is a will, the deceased will have specified who inherits what. However, certain family members have an entitlement to challenge the will. Specifically, spouses, civil partners and children. If the will does not provide for these relations they are entitled to dispute the will.

When there is no will, the Succession Act dictates the distribution of an estate. If the deceased has a surviving spouse and no children, then the spouse will inherit everything. However, if the couple does have children, then the spouse inherits two thirds. The remaining assets are then divided between the children. Adopted children have the same inheritance rights as children born to the couple.

There are some exceptions, such as joint bank accounts. Unless otherwise stated in writing, the contents of any joint accounts will go to the other named person or parties.

How Long Do I Have To Administer An Estate?

With so much information to gather and people to contact, administering an estate can seem overwhelming. The good news is that you have a year (12 months) following the day the deceased pass. Within this year, no beneficiaries can pressure you to complete the process faster. This period is referred to as an Executor’s year.

How Long Does Probate Take To Complete?

Once the probate application is complete, it usually takes about 12 months until completion.

What If The Will Is Disputed?

In the circumstances of a will being distributed, the matter will go to court. Will disputes often arise if a beneficiary believes that:

  • The deceased was not of sound mind when creating a will.
  • That the distribution of assets is unfair.
  • That the executor did not interpret the will correctly.
  • That they are entitled to more.

Disputes of this nature are dealt with in court.

Need Help With Administering An Estate?

At Whelehan’s Solicitors, we can administer the estate for you and deal with any Court applications. We understand the stress that administering an estate can bring. It is challenging to manage when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. Our services are discreet, and we aim to make things as straightforward for you and your family. To talk to an experienced solicitor about administering an estate, contact us on 066 712 9782 or