Information on tax after a bereavement

What is an estate?

An estate is made up of the assets that a deceased person had. These can be passed on to the beneficiaries following their death. Assets can include:

  • bank accounts
  • stocks and shares
  • property
  • land
  • livestock
  • jewellery
  • a car.

How can an estate be passed on to the beneficiaries?

An estate can be passed on to the beneficiaries in a number of ways.

If there is a will, assets will be passed to the beneficiaries as directed by the deceased person. If there is no will it is known as 'intestacy' and the assets will be passed under special rules laid down by law.

Examples of assets that pass under a will or intestacy include:

  • assets owned in the deceased person’s name
  • assets owned by the deceased person, but placed in another person’s name for convenience
  • assets that the deceased person put in the joint names of the deceased person and another person where it was intended not to give any benefit to the other person.

Examples of assets that pass outside of the will or intestacy include:

  • assets that will be passed by nomination such as where the deceased person has instructed An Post to pay saving certificates to a nominated person after they died
  • death benefits which will be passed to beneficiaries who are certain family members named on a life insurance policy or pension scheme
  • assets that the deceased person put in the joint names of the deceased person and another person where it is intended to give a benefit to the other person.

Next: What is a personal representative?