Probate and Trusts

When someone dies (the deceased) he/she usually leaves an estate behind comprising money, investments, property and possessions which need to be administered.

The persons entitled to these assets are the ‘beneficiaries’ and their right to take a benefit depends on different circumstances.

If the deceased plans for the future properly he or she makes a will which sets out who the estate is to go to (see our article on wills for more information).

The deceased also appoints one or more executors who he or she trusts to carry out the requirements of the will. The executors will call in the assets comprised in the estate where appropriate, pay debts and liabilities from the estate and then distribute the estate amongst the beneficiaries.

A will is an important document and should clearly set out the wishes of the person who makes it (the Testator). The formalities for completing a will must be strictly complied with otherwise the will could be invalid. These formalities can be confusing to those who are not used to dealing with such matters. Anyone can produce their own will but if the wording is unclear or ambiguous or the will is not correctly signed then at best problems could arise for the executors and at worst the will might be ineffective.

In our view it is better to have a will prepared by a solicitor who is trained to carry out the job and to oversee the signing to ensure that the will is valid, effective and reflects the wishes of the testator.

If someone dies without making a will then an intestacy arises and the estate passes to those relatives who are entitled under the intestacy rules. The person who deals with the winding up of the estate will usually be one or more of the beneficiaries under the intestacy rules.

Depending on the size and make up of the estate it may be necessary to make application to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate (if there is a will) or Letters of Administration (if there is an Intestacy)

We can help with both preparation and completion of wills and winding up estates including obtaining grants of Probate or Letters of Administration so if you would like to know more please do not hesitate to contact us.