What's Involved In Administering The Estate Of A Deceased Relative?

When a relative dies and you are left with the job of sorting out their estate and financial affairs (probate), it can be an emotional and complicated process.  Although you can complete much of this process yourself, it's still a good idea to consult an experienced family or probate solicitor, especially if the estate is a valuable one.

Here's a brief guide to what you'll need to know about sorting out your deceased relative's affairs.


As an executor named in the will of the deceased, you will be expected to carry out certain duties as follows:

  1. You'll need to work out what assets and liabilities were owned by the deceased; this may involve arranging for property valuations and working out the value of investments, pensions, and other insurances.  
  2. You will need to arrange for the payment of funeral expenses.  
  3. You must obtain, complete and submit the requisite probate registry documents.  
  4. You will be required to calculate any tax liabilities that are owed by the estate and submit any requisite paperwork to the Revenue office.  
  5. Once the estate is settled, you must arrange for the payment of any debts.  You must then distribute any remaining assets among the beneficiaries as per the wishes of the deceased as stated in their will.  
  6. If the deceased owned any property, you will need to arrange for it to be sold.  
  7. Your final task will be to compile a set of detailed accounts for distribution to all the deceased's beneficiaries.


Probate is the term that refers to the court's authority that is given to a deceased's executor to administer their estate.  In order to carry out this role, you will need to be issued with a document by the Probate Registry called a Grant of Representation.  The Grant of Representation will be required by organisations, such as financial institutions and life insurance companies, before they will release the deceased's assets.

Settling debts

If someone dies and leaves debts behind them, you won't be expected to settle them personally; any debts will be paid for out of the deceased's assets.  If the debts exceed the value of the estate, it will be deemed to be insolvent.  If an estate is insolvent, you won't be able to distribute any of the legacies left in the deceased's will to the beneficiaries; their debts must be settled first.

In conclusion

Probate can become complicated in the case of large estates, and if you are named as an executor in the will of a deceased relative, it's sensible to seek the assistance of an experienced probate solicitor to guide you through the process.