A practical guide to drafting a will

It is important to make a will to ensure your estate is managed in the way you would want it to be following your death. A well-planned will allows you to make provision for your loved ones and save tax.

Wills checklist

  • Make a list of all of your assets and where they are located.
  • Make a list of your immediate family members and how they can be contacted.
  • Choose the executor/executrix of your will. This is the person who will ensure that the will’s provisions are carried out in full.
  • Set out how you want your estate divided. If you are married, your spouse has a legal right share to half of your estate if there are no children. If you have children, your spouse has entitled to a third of your estate.
  • If you have children under 18 years of age, decide who to appoint as their guardians. You may place assets you intend leaving to your children in a trust for their benefit until they reach an age you choose (this does not have to be 18). 

Do I need to make a Will?

It is a common misconception that your estate will automatically pass to your partner upon your death, or that your loved ones will simply divide up your assets after your death. This may not happen, however. If you die without a will (intestate), the law will determine who will inherit, and your loved ones may not be included in the way you would wish. If you want your estate to be divided according to your wishes, you need to make a will.

Make information easy to find

It is important to ensure that your executor has ready access to all the information needed to ensure your wishes are carried out according to your will. Clearly outline the location of all the assets referred to in your will, and include contact details for all the beneficiaries and any other relevant people.

Choosing your executors

Choosing who to name as executor in your will is not a decision you take lightly. The executor is responsible for administering your estate according to your wishes after your death. The role can be complicated and time-consuming, so you may want to choose a professional such as a solicitor. Alternatively, you can select a family member or friend. They should be somebody you trust and somebody you know will be able to manage the legal and practical responsibilities. 

You are allowed to name multiple executors, but make sure you can trust them to work together. Executors must be adults with mental capacity. They are permitted to benefit from your will.

Duties of An Executor

1. If you are named as the executor of a will, your first duty is the burial or cremation of the deceased's body. 

2. You must then take out Probate, which involves getting the Probate Office or the appropriate District Probate Registry ro certify that:

  • The document is a valid will.
  • All legal, financial and tax issues are in order.

The provisions of the will can only be carried out when the Probate Office validates the will. This means the will has been “proved.” The Probate Office will do some research before making its decision. This may involve taking a sworn affidavit from witnesses. 

3. The executor must find out all outstanding debts and liabilities. and ensure that there are no claims outstanding against the Estate.They must also determine who all of the beneficiaries are. 

4. A schedule or list of all the assets and liabilities of the deceased must then be prepared. 

5. Once probate is issued, the executor may then collect all the deceased's assets and determine whether to sell or retain any assets not allocated specifically to named beneficiaries.

6. The executor must pay debts and expenses and manage taxation issues

7. Finally, the executor must complete an administration account including all monies received and distributed during the administration period and send it to any relevant beneficiaries.

8. Executor duties are for life, so if any assets are discovered after the distribution of the estate these must be disposed of.

Inheritance tax planning

Each of your children can inherit €320 from you before paying any tax on the assets. A relative who is not your child may inherit €32,500 before paying tax. Any other beneficiary may inherit €16,250 before paying tax. Inheritance Tax, also known as Capital Acquisitions Tax is currently 33%.

Our firm takes particular pride and is committed to helping our clients with their personal affairs. Members of our probate team have the expertise and experience to tailor wills to each individual’s particular circumstances. We know where problems and difficulties can arise and can guide and advise you appropriately to avoid them.

We strongly recommend to our clients and their families that they have a will which:

  • Reflects the needs of their dependents and
  • Is up to date with current tax legislation and their asset portfolio.

Our solicitors are committed to:

  • Listening to your needs
  • Offering you the best professional and objective advice
  • Drafting your will, having given you the opportunity to make an informed choice.

6 frequently asked questions about making a Will

What is a will?

In its simplest terms, a will is a written document, setting out how an individual wishes their assets to be disposed of on their death. It only takes effect on death and a person remains free to deal with their property in their lifetime as they wish. A will can be revoked or amended at any time up until death. A will can do more than simply provide for distribution of your assets, it can stipulate who will look after young children in the event both parents die.

Who should make a will?

It goes without saying, every person irrespective of age should have a will but there are certain individuals where it is vital;

  • Parents with children under 18 or children with disabilities.
  • People with assets and property here or abroad.
  • Business owners.
  • Those who have been divorced or separated.
  • Single parents.

Why make a will?

A well drafted will ensures your loved ones are provided for in the most effective and tax efficient manner possible;

It provides clarity and certainty as to how assets will be distributed and to whom (e.g. spouses, partners, children, parents, brothers and sisters).

It provides a mechanism to provide for dependents especially those with special needs and preserve disability allowances by the use of discretionary trusts.

It allows for tax planning and the use of various tax reliefs to minimise tax.

Passing assets to beneficiaries can be delayed by the use of trusts, until the beneficiaries are mature enough to inherit.

It allows you to appoint testamentary guardians of your minor children and trustees to look after their inheritance.

It allows you to appoint a trusted individual (an executor) who will administer your estate.

When should you make a will?

It is never too early to have a will. Certain life milestones should trigger the impetus to make a will, like your first job, first house, first child, first life insurance policy, health concerns, marriage and/or divorce.

What happens if you die without a will?

If you pass away without a will, or have not made a valid will, you are said to have died intestate. Your assets will be distributed to your surviving relatives in strict accordance with the law under the rules of intestacy. Your nearest next of kin will inherit and they will be entitled to administer your estate. Those relatives who are more remote will not inherit anything. In an intestacy, there is no provision to take into consideration what a person’s wishes may have been. The best way to make sure your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes is to make a will.

Your will should be regularly updated to take into account changing personal and financial circumstances and indeed changing tax legislation.

Where should you make a will?

Our firm takes particular pride and is committed to helping our clients with their personal affairs. Members of our probate team have the expertise and experience to tailor wills to each individual’s particular circumstances. We know where problems and difficulties can arise and can guide and advise you appropriately to avoid them.