Why should I make a Will ?

By chadmin
Tuesday, 15th March 2016

In deciding whether a person should make a will, it is best to explain firstly what a will is.  

A will is a legal document that allows you to express your desires and intentions regarding the distribution of your property following upon your death and ensures that your belongings are received directly by your family, loved ones, people and/or charities you hold hear to you.  

There are many benefits to making a will and very few disadvantages.  Undoubtedly, the biggest benefit is that it allows you to dictate, via a clear legal document, how you want your assets, distributed following your death. This is particularly important if you are married or have children as, in each case, you will no doubt want to provide appropriately for your loved ones. In the absence of having a will, the ‘Rules of Intestacy’ (which apply where a person dies without making a will) will determine how your assets are distributed amongst your heirs. As the definition of ‘heirs’ only includes family members, this distribution may not be in accordance with your wishes and specifically excludes those who are not blood relatives and charities.  

The main advantages of making a Will are as follows:-

1. Making a will avoids Intestacy;

2. Making a will allows you to appoint an executor;

3. Making a will enables you to appoint guardians and/or Trustees for your children; and

4. Making a will allows you to pass items to your loved ones, dear friends and valued charities.

The next question which arises is what happens if I die without a will?  

When a person dies without making a will, or if their will cannot be located, is deemed false or invalid (for not meeting the statutory requirements described below), it’s called dying intestate. The Succession Act, 1965 has a set of statutory rules governing who is entitled to receive a person’s property if they die intestate. These rules are commonly known as the ‘Rules of Intestacy’ or the ‘Rules of Intestate Succession’.

Quite often, the application of the Rules of Intestacy more often than not results in the distribution of a deceased person’s property in a manner that they may never have wanted. This is because the rules set out a list of people (known as ‘heirs’) who are entitled to receive shares in the deceased’s property; as well as the amount of these shares and the order in which they are entitled to receive them. The specific order in which they are entitled to receive is set out in the graph below. 

What re the disadvantages of not making a Will?

1. Your estate may not be divided in accordance with your wishes;

2. It may result where agreement cannot be reached between the heirs in the courts appointing      a personal representative who will then decide how to distribute your estate

The Succession Act 1965 sets out the minimum requirements for a will to be valid which are as follows:- 

* A person must has reached the age of 18 years;  

* The will is executed voluntarily and without pressure from any other person;

* The Will must be made by a person who is of ‘sound and disposing mind’. Being of ‘sound and disposing mind’ is generally taken to mean someone who understands that they are making a will; the general extent of their property, who their heirs and family members are; and the way in which their will proposes to distribute their property (and, of course, to be satisfied with that);

* The will must be in writing;

* It must include an attestation clause and be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses;

* The will must be signed by the witnesses in the presence of the testator (after he has signed it) and in the presence of each other. 

If the above requirements are not complied with, the will may be deemed to be invalid in which case the rules of intestacy will apply.

It is most important to note that a beneficiary under the will or the spouse of such a beneficiary should not under any circumstances act as a witness to the signing of the will. If they do so, the gift to the beneficiary under the will shall be deemed to be invalid, although the will itself will remain valid; and

I hope the above persuades you to contact Alan Crossan or Loraine Hanratty and make an appointment with us to make a will.