Recent research by Irish Life indicates that almost 2 out of 3 adults living in Ireland still haven’t got round to making a will. This is despite the fact that if you die “intestate” (without making a will) then the 1965 Succession Act will dictate how your estate is to be divided. This may well be in complete contrast to your wishes. Now, wouldn’t that be a right bummer!
Having a will shouldn’t only be the preserve of those with large estates as some may believe. If you’re an adult with means or dependents, in a relationship or married with children, then having an up to date will is vitally important. If you don’t have a will in place and leave children behind, then the courts will decide their guardianship, who cares for and educates them, with no regard for your express wishes.
A will is also a vital cog in the wheel when it comes to planning your finances and estate distribution; if looking to preserve assets in an efficient manner or reduce the potential inheritance tax liability when passing on those assets to your next of kin. I’ve covered this Estate Planning in more detail in another one of my blogs but for this article, the following is the current situation of what happens if you die without leaving a Will:
Married with no children:The entire estate goes to your spouse.
Married with children:Your spouse is entitled to 2/3rds with 1/3 divided equally amongst your children.
Single with no children:The entire estate goes to your parent/s.
Single with children:100% goes to your children and if one of your children has predeceased you, their share will pass to their children (if any) equally.
Single with no children and both parents dead:100% divided between your brothers & sisters.
No family members: The State will endeavor to determine your next of kin and your estate will pass to them.(1965 Succession Act)
If the distribution order outlined above isn’t in sync with your plans, then you should seriously consider getting a will in place, and surprisingly, it really is a simple enough exercise. A solicitor can arrange it for you, and in most cases, this should be quite inexpensive.
If, for one reason or another you’d prefer not to engage a solicitor, you don’t have to. You can draw up a Will yourself and provided you adhere to the following conditions, it will be as legally binding as if a solicitor drew it up for you:
• The Will must be in writing
• You must be over the age of 18 and of sound mind
• You must sign the Will in the presence of two independent witnesses, neither of whom can benefit from the Will nor any spouse or civil partner of theirs.
• The two witnesses must also sign the Will but do not need to know its contents if you don’t want them to
• The signatures or mark must be at the end of the Will
While you can of course decide who benefits from what’s within your Will, the above mentioned 1965 Succession Act also provides certain minimum protection for a spouse and surviving children. So, you should at least be aware of the following in this case;
• If you leave a spouse and no children, your spouse is legally entitled to 50% of the estate
• If you leave a spouse and children, your spouse is entitled to 1/3 of you estate.
• A recent law reform commission proposes the amendment of the law in relation to parents having a moral duty to include children in their will, subject to a few exceptions. In line with new thinking around financial planning, these changes are being recommended to reflect the fact people are living longer, and will need to use their resources to fund their own health care and living expense requirements in later life.
The right of the surviving spouse to his or her legal share ranks after the rights of any creditors of the deceased but before all other beneficiaries.
A Certified Financial Planner is an excellent point of contact for any of your financial planning needs or guidance in structuring the distribution of your assets. Engaging the services of a Certified Financial Planner should certainly help keep you on the right path, and particularly when making financial decisions or looking at planning your overall Financial Future.
Look out for my next blog where I will share a few thoughts on a number of the key advantages around a very interesting topic of buying property through your pension. Paul is the Managing Director of Lifestyle Financial Planners Ltd, has been in business since 1985 and offers specialist, tax efficient wealth management, retirement and estate planning solutions to our customers. Paul is a Certified Financial Planner and holds a Masters Degree from UCD in Financial Services and Risk Management.
Tel: 096-75951 Mob: 086-8053755, web: www.lifestylefinancialplanners.ie
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Waiver: The information contained in this article is for general information only and cannot be relied upon as the basis for any form of agreement or advice. Paul recommends engaging professional tax, legal or financial planning advisory services relevant to your own specific and particular circumstances.