What to do if someone passes away in Ireland?

How much does it cost? How long does the process take?

The cost and time involved to organise the affairs of a deceased person depends upon the complexity of their affairs. At Sherwin O’Riordan, we understand that our clients will be anxious not to incur unnecessary legal fees, nor engaged in a lengthy process. We will work with you to ensure that the process of dealing with the estate of the deceased is administered according to a fee structure that meets your needs, and as quickly as the circumstances allow.

What steps do I need to take legally when someone belonging to me passes away?

In the first instance, the deceased’s next of kin should be notified of their death. Furthermore, the deceased’s passing away should also be communicated to their family doctor, and to the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths in order to register the death. After these steps have been taken, the process of organising their estate can begin.

What happens to their Will? Where is their Will kept? What if they never made a Will?

In most cases, the deceased’s Will is retained by their solicitor, unless they themselves have retained the original copy. If the deceased never made a Will, then there is no guidance as to how the deceased wished for their estate to be organised. As a result, the estate will be distributed according to a distinct legal procedure under the law of ‘intestacy’ i.e. where no Will has been made. 

How do I cover funeral costs?

Funeral costs tend to be covered by the deceased’s estate. The executor of the deceased’s estate will need to apply to the Probate Office for permission – otherwise known as ‘probate’ – to administer the estate and cover funeral costs, which is granted when the Office has satisfied itself that the deceased’s Will is a valid document. Most banks will allow undertakers costs to be paid from the deceased bank account before the formal Grant of Probate has issued.

How do I change everything that is in their name?

It will be necessary for the deceased’s death to be communicated to all relevant parties, such as banks holding the deceased’s accounts and utilities providers. These parties will, in most cases, require proof of death and evidence that probate has been granted before closing accounts or releasing the deceased’s property to the executor.

Can I freeze all their accounts?

In the ordinary course, it will be the case that any organisations that the deceased had an account with, e.g. bank accounts, subscriptions to magazines or organisations etc., will need to be notified of the deceased’s passing. The executor will normally handle this responsibility, and can ask that the accounts are frozen and ultimately closed provided all of the deceased’s financial affairs are in order.

What happens to any outstanding debt, where do the debts pass to?

It is important to understand that a deceased’s outstanding debt does not disappear upon their death – their estate must satisfy them. Before the remaining deceased’s assets can be distributed amongst surviving family members and friends, the executor must arrange for any debts to be paid and settled.

I am grieving and not ready to make decisions/deal with the legal obligations – can someone represent me? What time frame do things need to be done in?

It is not uncommon for those who have been identified as an executor to feel unable to fulfil their duties, especially if they have been close to the deceased. It is possible for someone else to assume your responsibilities if needed. In terms of time frame, the law affords a period of one year from the date of the deceased’s death for beneficiaries of a will to be allocated their entitlement. However, in practice, the length of time for an estate to be settled will vary depending on the complexity and circumstances in question.

Can I or anyone contest their Will? What is your success rate on contesting a Will?

It is possible for a Will to be contested provided the challenge is based on legally recognised grounds. The success of any challenge to a Will depends on the particular situation and the strength of the evidence supporting the reasons for the challenge. At Sherwin O’Riordan, we have a high success rate helping clients justified in challenging a Will build strong cases. If you are considering contesting the terms of a Will, please contact us for more information.

Another firm holds the Will/ deeds belonging to the deceased, can these be moved over and handled by this firm?

It is not uncommon for deeds to have been held by one law firm, and for a deceased’s family to instruct another team of solicitors to assist in the administration of the estate. Once instructed, our private client team will arrange for the deceased’s Will to be transferred as efficiently as possible. Please contact us for more information.

At Sherwin O’Riordan, we have a great deal of experience in handling all aspects of the executry process. If you need to speak to a solicitor who understands your concerns and able to address them quickly, please contact our specialist private client team using our online contact form.

Meet your team of Probate Solicitors in Dublin, Ireland

helen oconnell
Helen O'Connell
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jean bauress
Jean Bauress
Legal Executive
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