How many of us make Wills?
Recent Research showed that only 34% of people living in Ireland have made a will. The research also showed that only 51% of those aged between 45 and 64 years of age have a will, but 82% of those over age 65 years have a will.
Consequences of not making will
A will is one of the most important documents that you will have to make decisions on in your life.
If you do not make a will, the law dictates that your property is distributed among your closest relatives in accordance with rules set out in legislation. This may not suit every family situation and takes control away from the deceased person as to who is to inherit from them.
It also makes it much easier for friends and family if their loved one leave a will outlining exactly what their wishes are and it is more timely and cost effective in the long run.
When should you make a will?
Everybody should make a will and review a will on reaching certain stages in life, such as:
- Becoming the owner of property/cash
- Getting married – It is important to know that if somebody has made a will and subsequently marries, that will is then void as if it was never made
- Going abroad
- Getting divorced or separated – Getting divorced or separating will not mean that the terms of any previous will made while you were married would automatically change and so it is very important to revise your will at this point
- Buying a house
- Having children
- Inheriting property (or winning the Lottery!)
- Retiring, getting older or suffering from an illness
There is no time like the present to plan for the future and make your will.
- Many people may not be aware but there are legal formalities that have to be adhered to so as to make sure that your will is valid and cannot be subject to challenge. It is always advisable to get legal advice from a qualified solicitor so as to avoid a situation where your will would be declared invalid for non-compliance with these rules.
- Somebody who has a will can update their will as many times as they like during their lifetime, but care should be taken to destroy any former wills in accordance with the formalities required by law. This is to prevent the possibility of any challenge to your most recent will. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on this.
- It is important to notify somebody close to you of where your will is held so that it can be accessed when you should pass. There is no central wills register in the country so for the will to take effect its existence must be known. This does not mean that the details of what are in the will should be disclosed however.
- People with assets in foreign countries need to make a separate will in that country dealing with those assets as well as having a will here in Ireland for any property in this country. An Irish will is not valid for assets held abroad. It is very important to tell both your foreign lawyer and solicitor here about your will abroad so that the wills in both countries can then refer to the fact that another valid will for you exists and that neither will, taken by itself, can deal with all of your assets – they need to be read together.
- Wills are not only for distributing your assets, they can include wishes. For example, if you have particular preference about how you wish your funeral arrangements to be dealt with (e.g burial in a certain place, cremation etc) these can also be included in the will to prevent any uncertainty.
- Single farm payments attach to a farmer, not to their land. If a farmer then wishes to have the single farm payments go to a family member who is to inherit the farm, this needs to be stated separately in their will. Otherwise, the single farm payment could end up in the remainder of the will assets, and could pass to someone who has no involvement with the farm whatsoever.