Losing a loved one is hard enough without the added stress of dealing with their estate, which is where having the right legal advice for bereaved individuals can truly make a difference in easing the burden.

In the wake of a loved one’s passing, the thought of navigating legal obligations and processes can be overwhelming. Professional legal advice becomes not just helpful but essential, providing a beacon of guidance through the complexities of probate and estate administration. It simplifies the process, helps to avoid any mistakes, and lets you focus on what’s truly important – grieving and remembering your loved one.

In this article, we highlight the importance of legal advice for bereaved individuals and provide clarity on how a solicitor can assist in the probate process.

Navigating probate and estate administration

Naturally, once the funeral has taken place, it’s time for those bereaved to begin the healing process. However, from a practical point of view, there’s a long list of tasks that need to be completed following the passing of a loved one. From notifying the bank, and cancelling subscriptions/direct debits, to contacting any departments that may need to be updated such as the pension or social welfare office. Those working in these departments and organisations are well-versed in dealing with probate and estate administration and therefore understand the sensitive nature of this process.

Common legal challenges in probate

Often the first question at the beginning of a probate case is how long the case will take to be completed. Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this as it depends on a lot of different factors such as the size and complexity of the estate. It can also vary from county to county, as the waiting times for a Grant of Probate differ in each probate office. Here are some of the challenges during the probate and estate administration in Ireland:

Determining the validity of a will

The first step in a probate case is to establish whether the recently deceased individual has created a will. Once the will has been located, the next step is to establish the authenticity and legality of the deceased’s will. It is at this point that the executor of the will is identified and must commence the duties required of this role. In some cases, the will may be contested by a family member which can disrupt and delay the probate process significantly.

Asset distribution

Another important step in estate administration is identifying, valuing, and distributing the deceased’s assets according to the will. This can take time depending on the size of the estate and whether some assets may have been owned jointly. In situations where there is no will (intestate), the assets will be distributed according to the law under the Succession Act.

Debt settlement

In cases where there is a mortgage or any outstanding loans, these debts must be paid before the distribution of the estate. Similarly, any outstanding taxes must also be settled in advance of beneficiaries receiving their inheritance.

Why Legal Advice For Bereaved Individuals Is Essential - Summit Law (2)

A probate solicitor offers more than legal advice for bereaved individuals

Having the guidance of a solicitor during the probate process can make a huge difference. Each probate case and estate is unique, with some of the more complex cases requiring serious detective work to ensure the wishes of the will are carried out to the letter and that bereaved members of the family are looked after from a legal perspective Solicitors specialising in estate administration and probate offer:

  • Expert guidance: Solicitors provide clarity on the steps involved in probate and estate administration
  • Legal representation: Acting on behalf of the bereaved, solicitors ensure all legal requirements are met
  • Dispute resolution: In cases of contested wills or disputes among beneficiaries, a solicitor can offer mediation and legal solutions

Understanding estate tax and legal obligations

Estate tax, or inheritance tax, is a significant consideration in the administration of an estate. While a gift of property, asset or sum of money is always bequeathed with the best of intentions, it may come with a hefty tax bill. This is why it’s so important to have legal guidance at both stages – for the person setting out their will in advance of their passing, and for those listed as a beneficiary following the passing of a loved one. Legal advice is crucial to understand:

  • Tax liabilities: Identifying potential taxes owed by the estate or the beneficiaries
  • Allowances and exemptions: Applying for any relevant tax exemptions or reductions
  • Filing requirements: Ensuring all necessary tax documents are accurately completed and submitted on time

Summit Law is your provider of legal advice for bereaved individuals

At Summit Law, we understand that the probate process can be an extra burden to shoulder following the passing of a loved one. Our team of Probate solicitors offer comprehensive support to bereaved individuals through:

  • Personalised legal services: Tailoring our services to the unique needs of each client and their family
  • Transparent communication: Keeping clients informed at every step, ensuring they understand their legal position
  • Compassionate approach: Recognising the emotional difficulty of this time, we handle all matters with sensitivity and respect

If you’re finding the probate and estate administration process overwhelming, you’re not alone. We’re here to provide the legal advice and support you need during this difficult period. Contact us to find out how we can help you manage your loved one’s estate with care and professionalism.