What to do when Someone Dies

“A loved one has died. What steps from a legal point of view must I take after the funeral?”

Losing a loved one is undoubtedly a difficult experience, and amidst the emotional turmoil, it’s important to understand the necessary legal steps to take after the funeral. This article aims to guide you through the steps you need to consider from a legal standpoint in Ireland.

1. Keep Track of Costs

It’s crucial to keep a record of all costs involved. Some of these may include:

  • Funeral Bill: Note cost of transportation, coffin, etc.
  • Wake Expenses: May include venue rental, flowers, catering, etc.
  • Grave Plot/Grave Digger: If a grave plot was purchased and/or a grave digger hired, note the cost.
  • Registration of Death fee

Remember, these costs are typically redeemable from the estate of the deceased person.

2. Register the Death

The next step is to register the death if it hasn’t been done already. This can be done through the Births, Deaths, and Marriages office. Once the death is registered, it’s essential to obtain multiple copies of the death certificate – at least two. These certificates will be required throughout the process for various legal matters.

If you are unable to register the death due to a pending inquest then in those circumstances you will be able to get what is known as a “Certificate of Fact of Death”, this comes from the Coroner’s office in your area. This certificate can then be used by the Solicitor and this will allow them to progress on with matters for you. More information on registering a death is available here.

3. Identify and List Assets of Deceased Person

Possible assets of the deceased person include:

  • Real Property: Land or houses
  • Bank accounts: Include deposit, savings and current accounts
  • Cash held
  • Savings Bonds
  • Shares
  • Prize Bonds
  • Valuable jewelry and furniture
  • Farm Entitlements
  • Animals and Stock
  • Company Ownership

Making a list of all the assets will assist the solicitor in handling the estate effectively. Include Property, Bank Accounts, Life Policies, Prize Bonds, Co-op Shares, Credit Union Book, Post Office Savings Book, etc – as much information as possible.

4. Seek Legal Assistance

At this stage, it is recommended to consult a solicitor who specializes in probate and estate administration. Your solicitor will guide you through the legal process and ensure that everything is handled correctly. It’s important to find a solicitor you are comfortable with, as you will be working closely with them for an extended period.

Your solicitor will conduct a search for the original will if you are unsure of its location. If the will is found, and you are named as the executor and willing to act as such, you can proceed to extract a Grant of Probate.

The Grant of Probate is a document which issues from the Probate Office confirming the validity of the will once all proper checks have been made. The Executor is then in control to administer the Estate, and may proceed with tasks such as selling property, collecting the assets of the Estate and finally distributing the assets among the named beneficiaries under the Will.

What if there is no Will?

In cases where there is no valid will, the process becomes more complex. However, the initial steps remain the same. You should still track costs, register the death, and list the assets. Your solicitor will conduct a will search to confirm the absence of a valid will. If no will is found, the Rules of Intestacy come into play. There is a list of people who are first entitled to extract what is a called a “Grant of Administration”.  This usually takes around 6 months. 

A Grant of Administration is a document which the Probate Office in Dublin issues once they are happy that you are the person entitled to extract the Grant of Administration under the Rules of Intestacy. The Rules of Intestacy are very strict and your Solicitor will explain to you whether you are or are not entitled to extract a Grant of Administration.

What are the Legal Costs?

The legal costs in dealing with someone’s estate can be expensive, but not always. The Solicitor’s fees will be based on the amount of work involved and the value of the Estate.  Some Solicitors will be able to quote you a set fee once they know how much work is involved. It is advisable to discuss the legal costs with your solicitor upfront to avoid any surprises later on.

Inheritance Tax in Ireland

When receiving money, property, or shares as an inheritance, it’s essential to understand the implications of inheritance tax. In Ireland, inheritance tax is levied at a rate of 33% on amounts exceeding the tax-free threshold. As a child of a deceased parent, for example, you may receive a lifetime amount of €335,000 (subject to yearly changes) from both parents combined without incurring inheritance tax.

It’s crucial to consult with a solicitor or tax advisor to determine your eligibility for any available reliefs, such as Agricultural Relief, Business Relief, or Dwelling House Relief. These reliefs can help reduce the tax liability on your inheritance, but it’s important to understand the associated requirements and consequences.

If you need help navigating the legal process during this stressful time, contact us for expert assistance.

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