The basics of the probate process
Although probate can involve many legal intricacies, it is important to remember that the main goals when dealing with probate are actually quite simple:
- Before someone dies, they will want to have a say in how their estate will be divided, and who will inherit their belongings. These wishes should be expressed in a legally binding will
- A person’s will should specify one or more individuals who will be responsible for ensuring their intentions are carried out after they die. These individuals are known as the executors of the will
- When the person dies, the executor will need to apply to the Irish Probate Office for official permission to start executing the will. This is known as a grant of representation, or most commonly a grant of probate
- Once the grant of probate has been received, the deceased’s assets can be divided up and dealt according to the contents of the will, while meeting all necessary legal obligations. This is called administering the estate
- If no will has been prepared, the deceased’s estate will be distributed according to rules set out in legislation. In these cases, rather than obtaining a grant of probate, the document issued to allow their affairs to be dealt with is called a grant of letters of administration
Naturally, the complexity of administering an estate will depend on the individual circumstances of your case, which is why it is always recommended to get the advice of a trained solicitor in order to avoid any potential delays or conflicts arising during the process.
How long does the probate process take?
When dealing with probate, the issue of how long the process takes is a common question. Because the timescales involved in administering an estate depend on the complexity of the circumstances, it is not possible to provide a simple estimate of exactly how long this will take.
However, you should bear the following timescales in mind:
- As the executor of the estate, you will be legally required to provide beneficiaries of the will with their entitlements within one year of the date of death. If you fail to do so, legal action may be taken against you
- When applying for a grant of probate, it can take between three and six months to receive authorisation, depending on the size of the estate and the completeness of the paperwork you provide
Due to the legal deadlines and lengthy processes involved, it is advisable to take action on probate matters as soon as possible, while seeking advice from a solicitor to ensure that any potential roadblocks are dealt with and overcome.