Consistent with the research listed on The most important things to do / consider Amárach Research on behalf of My Legacy also found that only 30% of Irish people have a will. Not having one means your intentions may not be considered, it puts your loved ones at risk, adds additional costs and leaves a more complex situation for your family to deal with after your passing.
Whether your estate is a simple deposit account or a property portfolio creating a will helps you plan what happens to your possessions and how your finances and property can take care of your family on your passing. It also means that your family and beneficiaries are spared the expense and distress of a complicated and drawn-out administration of your estate as set out by the Succession Act 1965, during which time their financial situation can be uncomfortable.
It should be considered a living document for a living person and be reviewed and updated on a periodic basis.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that lets you express how you want your property, assets and keepsakes to be shared on your death. The person writing the will is called the “testator” or “testatrix”.
You can make as many wills as you like throughout your life but the only one that will be valid on your death will be the most recent one you made prior to your death. All wills you created before this one will not have any legal standing.
Whilst it is possible to draft your own will, it is always advisable to consult a solicitor in the drafting of any will.
How can I see the impact a will can make?
Please see the impact
- What the inheritance tax thresholds are
- Who automatically inherits ones estate (with no will in place)
- Rights of spouse/civil partner
on the page
Creating a will allows you to:
- Provide for those you chose.
- Protect your children (if any).
- Say where your assets go after your death – without a will your estate will be divided according to intestacy laws and not what you desire.
- Reduce the chance of your estate being contested.
- Lessen inheritance tax.
Without a will how is my estate dealt with?
See our page about Tax return/Revenue forms.
When should I make a will?
There is never a bad time to make a will, but key events/dates in ones lifetime can act as a trigger to make a will including :
- Working or travelling abroad.
- Divorce or separation.
- When you buy/inherit a house or become the owner of property or cash.
- Diagnosis of an illness.
In Ireland, for a will to be valid, you must:
- have the will in writing.
- be over 18 years old or else married (currently or previously).
- be of a sound mind.
- sign it front of at least two witnesses, neither of whom can be beneficiaries or spouses or civil partners. Note: The witnesses do not need to see what’s in the will as they are only witnessing your signature.
What should a will contain?
- Your name and address.
- A clause to revoke (cancel) all your previous wills.
- The names of your executors (executors are people you trust and appoint to work with your solicitor to carry out your wishes).
- A list of your money and goods and the people you want to inherit these items.
- A list of your property (or properties) and the beneficiaries you leave it to (you may also include instructions for the house to be sold and the money to be shared among your heirs).
- A clause to deal with any property or item not mentioned in your will (this is called a residuary clause).
- The date.
- Your signature.
- The signatures of your two witnesses.
- An attestation clause (this clause says that your will has been created in a manner that meets the legal requirements).
Five of the most common things you should not include in your will:
- Funeral Plans.
- Your ‘Digital Estate.
- Jointly Held Property.
- Life Insurance and Retirement Funds.
- Illegal Gifts and Requests.
To avoid problems with your will:
- Use a solicitor to draft your will if there a complexities/reliefs you are considering such as
- Dwelling House Relief:
- Business Inheritance Tax Relief
- Farm Inheritance Tax Relief
- Avoiding Capital Acquisition Tax
- Foreign Inheritance Tax Issues
- Consider what will happen if one of your beneficiaries passes away before you do by having a residuary clause in the will.. Whilst there are a number of exceptions to this rule such as Gifts left to children, then the specific legacy left to that person will be treated as though you died without a will (intestate).
- Name more than one executor and consider the possibility that they will pre-decease you.
- Don’t name an alternative executor as this causes confusion (say “I appoint Mary and Joseph” rather than “I appoint Mary or Joseph”)
- If there are young children named in your estate, it is advisable to:
- Establish a trust out of your estate.
- Appoint two Trustees who would manage any monies/assets until the children reach a certain age, normally 21. The Trustees are usually given a discretion to use the trust monies for the children’s education and maintenance in the meantime.
- A Guardian who would take on the day to day care of the children if any of them were under 18. You can include an alternate Guardian if the first one is unable/unwilling to take on the role.
- Provide additional powers for your executors and trustees.
- Note: you can have the same people do all three roles (executor, trustee & guardian) if you wish.
- Marriage revokes a will but divorce doesn’t – if you get divorced and your beneficiaries change make sure you create a new will.
- Don’t forget any wills you may have created in other countries – a revocation clause revokes all your previous wills, your foreign wills will be revoked too and this may not be what you want.
- Keep your will safe – if your will is destroyed it will cause a problem.
Free legal documents
Hibernian Funerals are happy to offer those people experiencing poverty or who are at risk of Funeral Poverty the ability to create a range of documents free of charge. These include
- Wills and codicils
- Advance healthcare directive
- EPA – drafting and registration
- Probate (Oath of administrator) – These legal documents are contained on the page ‘Solicitor & Probate’
Example Video, showing how easy it is to create a Will on-line
To avail of any of these documents above free of charge (for those people experiencing poverty or who are at risk of Funeral Poverty), please contact us using the following link. We will reply sending you a voucher code which will enable you to access the relevant self service documents at no cost.