Why Make a Will?

Recent research has found that 70% of Irish adults have not made a Will. We all find it difficult to face our mortality but making a Will ensures that we ease the distress for the loved ones left behind.

If you die without a Will, the law on intestacy decides what happens to your property.

A person who dies without a Will is said to have died ‘intestate’. Instead of an Executor, of your choosing, an Administrator, appointed in according to the law on intestacy, applies to administer your estate. This is sought in the form of a Grant of Representation which is issued as Letters of Administration by the Probate Office. If you die intestate the handling of your estate may be delayed and complicated.

In cases of intestacy, there are laws set down that specify who will benefit from the estate you have left behind, but these laws may not reflect your wishes. If you die leaving children, your Spouse or a Civil Partner is only entitled to 2/3 of your estate and your children are entitled to 1/3 which may mean that the family home now becomes jointly owned by your Spouse and your children which can lead to all sorts of problems and conflicts. Even if your children then transfer their share of the property to your Spouse there can be tax consequences.

By making a Will and by getting tax advice you can legally reduce or even eliminate the tax payable to your loved ones on what they inherit.

A Will can ensure that proper arrangements are made for your dependants and that your property is distributed in the way you wish after you die. A Will is the only way of ensuring that your wishes will be carried out in relation to what happens to your assets after you die, and also ensures that your successors can access those assets quickly. This can be crucial in the event that outstanding bills need to be paid.

A Will is especially important if you have children under the age of 18 years or with certain special needs as you can appoint guardians and set up a trust in your Will to care for dependent children for as long as they require financial support, and it can also benefit organisations you support, eg. charitable causes.

A Will should also save your loved ones from unnecessary stress by preventing family disagreements, minimising legal costs and reducing the amount of paperwork involved. As well as specifying who gets what, a Will allows you to decide who is responsible for carrying out your wishes (your Executor).

However, there are certain legal rights that your spouses or civil partners and children have even if you have not included them in your Will. If you require specific information please contact us.

Distribution of estate under the Rules of Intestacy

If the deceased is survived by

  • A Spouse or civil partner but has no children – spouse or civil partner gets entire estate
  • A Spouse or civil partner and has children – spouse or civil partner gets two-thirds, one-third is divided equally between children (if a child has predeceased his/her parent his/her children, if applicable, take his/her share)
  • A parents and has no spouse or civil partner or children – divided equally or entirely to one parent if only one survives
  • Children and has no spouse or civil partner – divided equally between children as per point 2.
  • Siblings only – shared equally, the children of a deceased brother or sister take their share
  • Nieces and nephews only – divided equally between those surviving
  • Other relatives – divided equally between nearest equal relationship
  • No relatives – the state ultimately is entitled to the estate

The information in this article is intended for general guidance only. Specific legal advice should be sought from your solicitor. No responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions in this article.