When is Probate Needed?

Probate is only needed if the deceased owned assets of a significant value, and he/she owned them in their sole name or as tenants in common.

When is Probate needed in Ireland?

Probate is a legal process that is sometimes needed after someone dies. However, Probate is not required after every single death in Ireland. In fact, Probate is only needed if the deceased:

  • Owned assets above a certain value, and
  • Owned these assets in their sole name, or as tenants in common

The deceased owned assets above a certain value

Probate is not needed for small estates. A small estate is one of little monetary value. For example, if someone dies with a few hundred euros in their bank account, it is very unlikely that Probate will be required. In these situations, the deceased’s assets can be handled via the small estates procedure instead. This is when cash assets are released without a Grant of Representation.

So, what exactly is a small estate? Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question. Banks and financial institutions have their own definitions and these differ between organisations. Usually, cash assets worth less than €25,000 can be released without a Grant. However, some banks and financial institutions set a higher limit, others set a lower limit. It is therefore necessary to check with the bank or financial institution holding the asset.

If the value of the asset is above the small estate threshold, then Probate will be needed – unless it is passing to a surviving co-owner under the Rule of Survivorship.

The deceased owned assets in their sole name

The Rule of Survivorship allows assets owned as joint tenants to be automatically inherited by a surviving co-owner. For instance, if a property is owned as joint tenants and one co-owner dies, his/her share is automatically inherited by the surviving owner. A Grant of Representation is not needed. This also applies to other jointly owned assets, although sometimes a Grant is needed for a joint bank account, depending on the bank’s terms.

On the other hand, if the deceased owned an asset valued above the small estate threshold, Probate will be needed if he/she owned this asset:

  • In their sole name, or
  • As tenants in common

So, if the deceased owned a property or land in their sole name, Probate will definitely be needed.

You will have to establish the value of the deceased’s assets, and the way in which they were owned, before you can verify whether Probate is needed. There may also be a scenario where certain assets can be released without Probate – such as a property passing directly to a surviving co-owner – but a Grant is required for other assets.

What about if there’s a Will?

It is a common misconception that the need for Probate depends on the presence or absence of a Will. Actually, it does not matter whether the deceased left a Will or not – Probate may still be required. Rather, it depends on the value of the deceased’s estate and the way in which assets were owned.

Speak to a Probate solicitor

If your loved one has recently died and you don’t know whether Probate is needed, please contact us at Mullins & Treacy LLP Solicitors. We can advise you accordingly. If Probate is required, we can handle the process on your behalf. We are client focused and results driven.

Call us on 051 391 488 or email reception@mullinstreacy.ie for a no obligation enquiry.

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