There is only one situation where the law says you have to engage a solicitor in a Probate case in Ireland and that is where the Personal Representative (Executor or Administrator) in a taxable case is non-resident. In a very simple case where there is only one beneficiary and only one or two assets and the beneficiary is also the Personal Representative there may be no need for a solicitor to be involved.  The Law Society has even produced a helpful booklet explaining these terms and showing you how to go about it and you can access it through this link https://www.lawsociety.ie/globalassets/documents/committees/probate/adminestatebrochure.pdf.

Why then do people engage solicitors in Probate and administration of estates? There are many reasons why they do, even when they could have managed by themselves.

a)     Some people cannot stand filling in forms or dealing with bureaucracy

b)     Some people cannot spare the time or would prefer to do other things with their time

c)     There may be family conflict around the issues of bereavement and inheritance and it is useful to have a solicitor to blame when things become heated and to ensure that the will is interpreted correctly or that the right beneficiaries have been identified on intestacy

d)     Being a Personal Representative is a big responsibility and s/he is personally liable for anything that goes wrong.  If you engage a solicitor, the solicitor is liable for any mistakes made through negligence or breach of contract.

e)     The world is becoming an ever more complex place, which means that it is becoming easier to make a mistake.  Taking out a Grant of Probate is easy in itself.  What is not so easy is what to do in the case of tax issues, inheritance issues, interpretation of wills, Succession Act rights, insolvency, property passing outside the will, significance of lifetime gifts, predeceased beneficiaries and debts, to name but a few.

f)      Finally, to quote the Probate Partner in the firm where I used to work – “If all goes smoothly, nobody will thank you.  If you make a mistake, everyone will blame you”.

It is always worth taking advice from a solicitor, even if you decide to administer the estate yourself. If a family member has died and you need to administer the estate, or you need advice on related tax, inheritance, interpretation of wills, Succession Act rights, insolvency, debts or other issues, you can email bradleys@iol.ie, click the call button, phone 014545138 or use the Contact Form.