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Having a will is important to ensure you have certainty over the disposal of your wealth and assets when you die. It provides your loved ones with clarity as to what your last wishes are at a time of grief. Critically, it allows your assets to pass to your beneficiaries in an orderly and timely manner avoiding disputes and arguments. Having a will is very important for unmarried persons who wish to pass on their assets to their partner on death. This applies to both heterosexual and same sex couples. Without a valid will the law of intestacy passes a deceased's assets to the next of kin not to unmarried partners.
 
If you have not made a will, your assets and wealth on death passes according to the laws of intestacy. As a result, it can often be the case that the persons you wish to inherit, are not regarded by law as automatic beneficiaries and in fact do not inherit.
For married couples, if one spouse does not have a will, it is not automatically the right of the surviving spouse to inherit all of the deceased's estate.
For unmarried persons with young children, the benefit of having a will is that you can nominate guardians and have specific guardianship arrangements for your children, on your death. This gives certainty and peace of mind that your children will be looked after according to your wishes after your death.
 
Making a will
A person who makes a will is known as the testator. Making a will avoids uncertainty, delay and dispute after you die. You can make specific bequests of property, shares, money, assets to named individuals. Alternatively, gifts can be made and the remainder of the assets (the residue) can be left to one or a number of specified individuals. You can also make certain charitable legacies and gifts to benefit charities on your death.
To make a valid will, the document must be by law:

- Made in writing
- Signed by the person making the will (the testator)
- There must be two witnesses to attest the testator's signature and to the correct execution of the will
- The beneficiaries must not witness the will. If a beneficiary witnesses the signing of the will, by law that person loses whatever gifts or bequests he is entitled to under the will.
 
Capital Acquisitions Tax
This form of Inheritance Tax may be payable on a deceased's estate on death above a certain threshold, depending on the nature of the relationship betweem the person giving the benefit and the person receiving the benefit. Land, property, bank accounts, personal belongings, and insurance policies are all reckonable in calculating the value of the estate. Capital Acquisitions tax is based at 33% of the value of the gift over the relevant threshold. Capital Acquisitions Tax is not payable on assets passing between Husband and Wife or between civil partners. With assets which have a high monetary value, we would recommend that you seek professional taxation advice where appropriate.
 
Can a will be revoked?
Yes. If you have made an existing will, it can be revoked in a number of circumstances. Marriage revokes an earlier will, unless that will was made in contemplation of marriage. Divorce can also change the effect of a person's will, as the former spouse is legally excluded from benefitting under the will. Making a subsequent will has the effect of revoking an earlier one. Also, where a person intentionally destroys an existing will, this can have the effect of revoking the will.
 
Who is responsible for managing and running my affairs when I die?
An executor named in a person's will acts as the deceased's representative with responsibility for gathering in the assets of the estate, and distributing the assets to those entitled under the will. The executor is also responsible for paying whatever debts, duties and taxes are liable under the will. The instrument that gives the executor legal authority to act is known as the Grant of Probate, which is taken out when the testator dies. It is normal to name at least two executors who can act on your behalf, should one die or be incapacitated. An executor can under law refuse to act and resign.

What is the law in relation to children?
Children cannot inherit under a will until they reach the age of eighteen. Children includes illegitimate and adopted children. Stepchildren are not regarded under law as natural children and will not inherit unless you specify otherwise. If you wish children to derive the benefit from a gift under your will, you must appoint trustees who will manage the asset on the child's behalf until they are legally entitled to inherit. If you leave assets to a child and that child dies before you leaving children of his own (your grandchildren) then these children will take the share jointly that their parent would have received had they survived.
 
What is the Residue?
The Residue of an estate is the remainder of the deceased's assets and wealth which is left after taxes, dues and duties are paid on the estate, and after specific bequests are dealt with. Often it composes the bulk or majority of a person's assets. The residue can be gifted to one person or to a number of persons jointly or in such shares as the testator shall determine. If a specific gift or bequest fails, for instance because the intended recipient has died, the gift becomes part of the residue. This is one of the most important clauses in the will as the residue can determine who the main beneficiary under the will is.
 
Bequests and Legacies
Many years ago the law regarded bequests as gifts of specific items eg. jewellery and legacies as gifts of money. Nowadays, both these are regarded as gifts the testator wishes to leave under his will. Bequests and legacies can be general in nature eg. a sum of €5,000, or they can be specific eg. a particular gold bracelet.
 
Guardianship of Children
A guardian is someone who has legal responsibility for the health and welfare of a child. Married parents have natural guardianship rights over their children. It is important if you have young children to make specific provision as to who will assume the responsibility of looking after your children when you die. If a married parent is still alive, they will assume guardianship. However, if no natural parent survices, the nominated guardian will care for the child. It is cruciallly important for unmarried parents to have specific guardianship requests in their wills to provide certainty and continuity in the care of their infant children.

Alternate Beneficiaries
You can nominate people who will benefit from your estate in the event that all the stated beneficiaries fail to survive you. This prevents the will from failing as the division of the proceeds of your estate according to the rules of intestacy.

Trustees
Trustees are the people with legal responsibility for managing and maintaining the proceeds of a person's estate where gifts are left to a minor or incapacitated person who cannot legally inherit. Children under the age of eighteen cannot inherit property or money under a will and so nominated trustees manage those funds on their behalf until they are legally entitled to inherit. Trustees have powers to invest monies in certain investments and have the ability to pay out of the trust fund in certain situations for example to use money to pay for the education of the child. Typically, the executors in a will will also act as trustees.

Same Sex Partnerships (Civil Partnerships) and Same Sex Marriage
Under recent law in Ireland,
persons of the same sex are entitled to marry and leave their assets to their spouse.
Registered civil partnerships are legally recognised as having the same validity as marriage. Therefore, civil partners can leave their assets to their partners in the same manner as married persons.

Testator
A tesator is a person who makes a will.
 
Do I need a Solicitor to make a Will?
The short answer is no. The vast majority of straightforward wills can be legally created without the need for a legal advisor. irish-wills.com provides a service that is cost effective allowing you to create a valid will in simple steps in your own time. Our service is run by a practising solicitor. We do recommend that in large estates where Capital Acquisitions tax isuses arise, you do seek financial advice prior to the making of your will.


testProfessionally drafted by a practising solicitor
testEasily adaptable to suit particular individual wishes
testLegally valid in Ireland
testSuitable for all types of gifts and bequests
testSimple and easy to use with no complicated jargon
testProvide certainty and clarity for your future
testCost effective saving you money
testDelivered directly to your e-mail address saving you time
testQuick and responsive solicitor backed service



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