Frequently Asked Questions > Why do I need to make a will?

A Will is an important document particularly if you have (a) substantial assets (property) and/or (b) minor children. The Will directs how your Estate (your net assets) is to be distributed and who will take care of your children until they reach the age of majority.

(a) Substantial Assets

If you have decided who should benefit from your estate, it is important to consider the tax implications which may affect the beneficiaries as it may not be your wish to leave a legacy to someone who may then find themselves with a tax liability on what they have inherited. Currently inheritances between spouses are exempt from tax and Inheritance received by a child from his/her parent are exempt up to €478,155. An inheritance received by a brother, sister, niece, nephew, grandchild or parent has a threshold of only €47,815 and if you receive an inheritance from some else your exemption threshold will only be €23,980. The current Capital Acquisition Tax rate is 20% on the excess. As you can see saving can be made if you engage in proper tax planning.

(b) Minor Children

Parents should consider what would happen in the event of both parents dying while their children are still young. While godparents accept a moral obligation to look after your children at a Christening, it is important that whoever is going to take on this responsibility should have some element of control over the estate and access to funds if required to meet the needs of the children. The estate can be held in trust by these individuals and the children could inherit a share once they have reached 18 or 21 years of age.

The starting point when you are considering making a Will is to prepare a list of your assets i.e. property, bank accounts, shares, insurance policies etc. The next step is to decide who you wish to appoint as your Executors. These should be persons who have an interest in having the estate administered and it is a common misconception that an Executor can not also be a beneficiary under the Will. Only a witness is precluded from receiving a bequest. In the case of minor children, the Executors can be the persons you wish to take care of your children and they can hold your estate in trust with powers to deal with yours assets as they may feel necessary for the benefit of the children.

If you don’t make a Will, your estate is not forfeited to the Government but passes to your next-of-kin under the rules set out in the Succession Act, 1965 and while these rules are designed to be as fair as possible, they do not incorporate the Decease’s wishes. There will also be some additional costs in administrating an estate where no Will has been made.

It is also possible in a Will to make specific bequests, like for a parent to leave particular personal items to a specific child or payments for charitable donations or a saying of Masses.

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