Ten good reasons to make a Will
- You retain control over who benefits from your estate. You can leave whatever you want to whoever you want, subject to the restrictions set out below.
- You can decide who your executor is going to be (who is going to manage your estate). This allows you to pick the most suitable person.
- You can minimise the tax bill of your beneficiaries with good estate planning.
- If you are an unmarried partner, your surviving partner will have no automatic right to your estate unless you make a Will providing for them.
- You can leave specific bequests to particular family members or charities.
- A will allows you to appoint trustees if any of your intended beneficiaries are under 18. This allows them to benefit from their portion of the estate while under the age of 18, where the benefit is required and where the Trustees approve it.
- A will gives you the opportunity to appoint testamentary guardians for minor children who you are the current guardian for.
- You can change your will as many times as you like. As long as you revoke all previous wills and codicils, your most recent will is the will that will apply to your estate.
- You can set out directions regarding your funeral arrangements. You should also discuss this with your family, as often, the will is not read until after the funeral.
- A will is the most important document to put in place during your lifetime. It usually costs between €100.00 -€150.00 plus vat, unless your situation is complicated. The existence of a valid Will greatly reduces the timescale, the complexity, and the cost of administering your estate.
What happens if I don’t make a Will:
The Rules of Intestacy apply. These can be summarised as follows:
- If your spouse or civil partner survives you and you have no children, your spouse is entitled to your entire estate.
- If you leave a spouse/civil partner and children, your spouse inherits two thirds and your children one third equally between them.
- If your spouse does not survive you, your entire estate is divided equally between the children.
- If a child dies before you but leaving children of their own, their share goes to their own children equally.
- If you do not have a spouse or any children, your parents take your entire estate, if alive.
- If both parents are deceased, your estate is divided between your brothers and sisters. If any brother or sister has predeceased you and leaves children, their children takes their parents share.
You do not get to choose the person best suited to be your executor.
You cannot appoint guardians for minor children in your care or trustees to handle their inheritance.
Your beneficiaries may be left with a large inheritance tax bill.
Restrictions on who you can leave your estate to
Legal right share: Your spouse/civil partner has a legal right to half of your estate, if you have no children. If you do have children, your spouse/civil partner is entitled to one third of your estate.
Your children are not automatically entitled to any part of your estate but if they feel you have failed in your moral duty to make proper provision for them in accordance with your means, taking into account their position in life, they can apply to court for relief.
The order for how your estate is divided up in your Will is usually as follows:
- Cash legacies ( where you leave a specific sum of money to someone)
- Bequests of specific items (e.g. painting, jewellery)
- Any special provision such as beneficiaries under 18, suffering from a disability, where the family home, business, farm forms a significant part of the estate, if you have availed of the Fair Deal Scheme under the Nursing Home Support Scheme Act 2009.
- Residuary bequest (a catch all clause which covers assets not specifically listed)
Being separated/divorced or an unmarried partner
Your solicitor will check your separation or divorce documents to make sure that any rights of your former spouse to your estate have been extinguished. It is not automatically the case that these rights are extinguished. In addition a divorced or separated spouse can apply for relief from the estate where they argue they have not been provided for properly. This also now applies to former cohabiting partners.
If you are unmarried partner, your surviving partner will have no succession rights. Therefore it is vitally important to provide for them in a Will. A cohabiting partner does have the right to apply to the Court to be provided for out of your estate.
Understanding joint property
Property that is held jointly (as opposed to property held together in separate shares) passes to the survivor where it is clear that this was the intention of the deceased. For example if a house is held jointly, it will pass to the survivor outside of the Will. It is important to make it clear when operating joint bank accounts
Payment of CAT, commonly known as inheritance tax can be minimised by properly planning your affairs in advance. The current rate of tax is 33% (this varies from year to year) This can be done in a number of ways, to include availing of the tax reliefs available, using the full amount of tax free thresholds available, using the tax free gift exemption to gift small amounts to beneficiaries while alive and using an insurance policy for CAT.
CONTACT OUR WILLS AND PROBATE SPECIALIST, CATHERINE A. KELLY, SOLICITOR, FOR A NO OBLIGATION DISCUSSION ABOUT YOUR NEEDS. 0749890190 OR firstname.lastname@example.org.
DISCLAIMER: Expert tax advice should be sought from a Tax Consultant prior to drawing up a Will, where tax planning is necessary. This article is written for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice. Legal advice should always be sought by you from your Solicitor and Tax Consultant who will give you tailored advice pertaining to your specific circumstances.