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The making of a Will is something that is often overlooked or put on the long finger

Yet this is a vital document and the only way of ensuring that a person’s specific intentions are carried out. It also ensures that the future of those loved ones who are left behind is safeguarded.  It is an area of law which is becoming ever more contentious and litigious as we move away from the traditional family base.

A Will simplifies the distribution of your assets and prevents the fate of your estate being determined by the rules of intestacy under the Succession Act 1965. Failure to have a valid Will has often led to beneficiaries receiving bequests solely by virtue of being related in blood to the deceased when in reality this may not have been the deceased person’s wish. This in turn has led to family disputes and ultimately lengthy and expensive court proceedings.

A Will is a complex document with several legal formalities which may have significant future tax implications. It is important to take advice from a solicitor in relation to the drafting of such a document in order to ensure that proper legal and tax advice can be given. Your Solicitor will make you aware of all potential tax liabilities for loved ones prior to executing a Will so that you can distribute your estate in the most tax-efficient manner.  

There are very specific legal requirements set down in the Succession Act 1965 as to how a Will should be executed under part VII of the act. It is important that these requirements are strictly adhered to, in order to ensure that your Will is valid and can ultimately be proven with the Probate office. 

A person preparing a Will, also needs be cognisant that they may not have completely unfettered discretion in how they distribute their estate.  A spouse may seek what is called their legal right share of an estate, if they feel they weren’t sufficiently provided for under the terms of the Will. This can vary from between a third to half of your estate depending on whether there are children of the marriage.  Similarly, a child may make a claim against the estate on the basis that the parent failed in their moral duty to make proper provision for the child. If not addressed properly at the time of preparing the Will, this can result in lengthy legal proceedings that diminish the overall value of the estate.

It is also wise to consider the tax implication for the beneficiaries of your Will. The applicable tax to gifts or inheritance is Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT) which applies at 33%. There are however exemptions thresholds depending on the relationship between the Testator and the beneficiary;

Class A – Parent to Child – There is an exemption of €335,000 before a liability arises.

Class B – Other lineal relatives (brothers, sisters, Niece/Nephews – There is an exemption of €32,500 before a liability arises.

Class C – Any other person – There is an exemption of €16,250.

In addition to this, there are other reliefs that may apply depending on individual circumstances. Once full instructions have been received, a Will can be prepared to ensure tax efficiency and minimal liability for one’s family.

People are often concerned about the finality of making a Will. It is important to remember, no Will is binding on the Testator until their death and it can be amended or changed at any time before a person dies.

For more information on making your Will please contact (Galway/Dublin) or (Munster) for more information.