A Will is one of the most important documents you will sign in your lifetime and deserves careful consideration and preparation. We spend our lives providing for ourselves and our loved ones and yet making plans for the division of our estate after our death is something that many of us put on the long finger.
Why do I need a Will?
A will is essential if we want to spare our loved ones unnecessary legal complications when we are gone. A Will effectively states what is going to happen to the assets of your ‘estate’ after your death and every will is unique to the person making it. Everyone should have a Will, but it is even more important if you have children, you own property or have savings, investments, insurance policies or the existence of an ongoing business.
What happens if I die without making a Will?
If you die without making a Will, you are said to die intestate. If this happens, you have no say in what happens to your estate. Instead, the “Rules of Intestacy’ will divide your estate in a pre-determined way exactly in accordance with the rules set out in the Succession Act 1965. The Succession Act 1965 provides strict requirements and rules for the distribution of an estate if you die without making a Will and this may not be to people whom you wished to benefit. Without a Will our loved ones can be left in a very vulnerable situation.
How do I make a Will?
Firstly you will need to list all the assets that you would like to include in your will e.g property, savings, shares, personal possessions that you have. Only then can you decide how your estate is to be shared among the beneficiaries. Then you should decide who will receive what assets after you die - your spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, children, family friends or charities. You will also need to think about tax implications and threshold levels, the existence of an ongoing business, provision for any children under 18, and other issues all of which need to be considered and provided for.
Why should I use a solicitor?
Choosing a professional solicitor who is a member of the Law Society of Ireland means that your solicitor will meet the high standards for administration of Estates, Wills and Probate services as set out by the Law Society. You will be using a regulated and insured legal professional who will discuss all your requirements with you, advise you on all options open to you, and carefully draft your Will to ensure your wishes are carried out. Trying to make your own Will, without a competent solicitor and sound legal advice, can lead to mistakes and ultimately mean that your Will is invalid.
What are the legal terms used by the legal profession in relation to making a Will?
“Testator/Testatrix”- The man/woman who has made the Will. A person is said to have died “Testate” if they made a Will.
“Intestate”- A person is said to have died “Intestate” if they did not make a Will. If a person dies without having made a Will or if the Will is invalid for whatever reason, that person is said to have died “intestate”. If the deceased is survived by a spouse/civil partner but no children, the spouse/civil partner gets the entire estate. If there is a spouse/civil partner and children then the spouse/civil partner gets two-thirds and one-third is divided equally between the children. If a child has already died his/her children take a share.
“Executor” – Is the person appointed under a Will to administer the estate. Usually there are two executors appointed under a Will. You can appoint a friend, a family member or a professional. You should ask your executors whether they are happy to take on this role as there are responsibilities involved, particularly if you include a trust in your Will. You should choose someone who is familiar with legal and financial matters. Using a solicitor as an executor will incur fees.
“Trustee”- Is a person (usually two appointed) given the power under a Will to administer property and funds for a specified person or group of persons for a specified purpose.
“Guardian”-Is a person (usually two appointed) given the power to care for the children of a testator.
“Beneficiary” - Is the intended recipient of funds or property under a Will.
“Legal Right Share”- If there is a Will and the spouse/civil partner has never renounced his/her rights and is not “unworthy to succeed” then that spouse/civil partner has a right to what is called a “legal right share” of the deceased’s estate. If there are no children, the surviving spouse/civil partner is entitled to one-half of the entire estate. If there are children, the surviving spouse/civil partner is entitled to one-third of the estate.
“Residue”-Is the remaining monies in an estate following payment of all debts, expenses and specific gifts to beneficiaries.
“Civil Partnership ”-The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 sets out the rights and obligations that civil partners have towards each other. A civil partner for the purposes of the Succession Act has exactly the same entitlements as married couples.
O'Doherty Warren Solicitors will discuss all your requirements with you, advise you on all options open to you, and carefully draft your Will to ensure your wishes are carried out.
For more information about the process in making a will and what’s involved in the administration of the deceased’s estate you can contact us at O'Doherty Warren Solicitors on 053 9421587 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.