It is important for all couples, young and old, to make a will. A Will tells your partner and your family, whom you want to get your assets when you die.
If you die without making a Will, in legal jargon, you are said to have died intestate. The Irish rules on intestacy will dictate how your assets, money and possessions will be allocated. We call this your estate. This might not be the way you or your partner would have wished your estate to be distributed.
If you die intestate and you are married or registered in a civil partnership, the intestacy rules provide that your spouse or registered civil partner is entitled to your entire estate, if you have no children. If you have children, your spouse or registered civil partner will automatically get two thirds of your estate and a one third share goes to your children. If your children are under 18, trustees will have to be appointed.
However, there are many young couples who will not have married or who will not have registered a civil partnership. If one partner dies, they will not automatically inherit from each other unless there is a Will. Because the remaining partner does not have any automatic right to inherit, this could cause difficulty and financial problems. If you lived with your partner for at least 5 years, or 2 years if you had a child together, you are called qualifying co-habitants, and your partner would have to apply to Court for provision to be made out of your net estate within 6 months of the date of the grant of representation taken out in your estate. The Court has discretion on whether or not to grant an Order making provision for your partner.
In general, when you die your estate is frozen, unless it is in your joint names. You will need a grant of representation to access your partner’s bank accounts or to transfer property. Under the intestacy rules, a person who has a right to take a share in the estate has the right to take out the grant of administration. However, what if your partner does not have a statutory right to a share?
If you die having made a Will, in legal jargon, you are said to have died testate. In your Will, you name the executor who will administer your estate and extract the grant of representation to administer your estate. You decide how you want to distribute your estate.
If you have children then it is even more important that each of you would make a Will to protect the children. In your Will, you can provide for a guardian to look after them until they reach 18 and also provide for how your children should be cared for. You can appoint the trustees you trust, to look after your estate on behalf of the children until they reach 18. You can also provide for the special needs of a family member and ensure that the minimum tax will be paid on any benefit left to that child.
The only inevitability in life is that you will die at some stage and by making a Will it provides certainty and will make that event an easier one for your family.
Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors, 39, South Mall, Cork at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or [email protected] if you would like more information.