Where do I start?
What do I have to leave in my Will? Firstly, make a list of all your assets. This includes all property held in your name or held in the joint names of you and another person, land, bank accounts, savings, shares, insurance policies, pensions, paintings etc.
When putting together a list of your assets consider the following:
- Whether certain of your assets are in joint names, such as the home which may be held in both your name and that of your spouse/partner for instance, or joint bank accounts, etc.
- For assets in joint names, on your death the jointly held property or bank account will be transferred into the other holders sole name. If this is not your intention then it is important that you deal with this matter. Holding property as joint tenants is very different to holding property as tenants in common. Contact us for further details.
- Credit Union Accounts: when you open a credit union account a nomination form is usually completed. This form sets out how your money held by the Credit Union will be divided on your death. The money will be given to the nominee and will not be divided as per your Will. If you are unsure if you signed a nomination form you should contact your credit union.
Who do you wish to benefit in your Will? This can be an easy question to answer for some people but it also can be quite difficult as the people that you may wish to benefit can change in our Will over time. It highlights the importance of updating your Will. It can be helpful to set out a list of who you wish to leave some or all of your assets to on the event of your death. This list should be given to your solicitor when discussing your will. It is important to note that the identity of the person or persons who you wish to benefit should be very clear in your Will. For example, if you wish to benefit your favourite nephew, use your nephew’s full name and don’t assume that your executor will know which nephew you are referring too. It is necessary to also take into account the rights that certain individuals may have under Irish Law.
Who is the best person to carry out the terms of your Will? – This person is known as your executor. While you can appoint anyone to be your executor it is useful to appoint someone who is familair with your affairs and you feel is capable of dealing with adminsteriing your estate.
For further information on appointing executors click on the link on the right of this page.
Do I need to appoint guardians in my Will? Guardians should be appointed in your Will to look after any children under 18 years of age. If you do not appoint a guardian, then the court will appoint guardians on your behalf and the appointed guardian may not have been the person you would have wished to care for your children.
For further information on appointing guardians and trustees, click on our helpful Guide to Making a Will.
What is required to make a valid Will?
- The Will must be in writing.
- You must be over 18 or married
- You must be of sound mind. This means the person making the Will must be fully aware of the nature of the document being written or signed, and be aware of their assets.
- Your name and address should be stated in your Will
- You should state who you wish to be your executor
- Include a revocation clause in your Will, this clause will revoke any previous Wills made by you
- Your Will should have a residuary clause. This clause sets out how the remainder of your estate not dealt with in the Will should be distributed. Usually, the residuary clause begins “I give all the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate to …”.
- The Will must be correctly signed or marked by the person making the Will. The legislation sets out that a Will must be signed by the person making the Will at the end, witnessed by two or more persons who were present at the time you signed your Will. Before you sign your Will, you should carefully read through your Will and ensure that your Will reflects your wishes. If you are unsure about any part of your Will, you should review your Will again with your solicitor before signing. We always recommend that you should have your Will prepared by an experienced solicitor who can ensure that your Will reflects your wishes and meets all the legal requirements for creating a valid Will.
- The Will must be correctly witnessed. When you sign your Will your signature must be witnessed by at least two people. Your two witnesses must see you sign your Will but they do not need to know that what you are signing is your Will and they do not need to read your Will. They are simply in your presence and witness you signing your name. It is extremely important that your two witnesses must sign the Will in your presence. It is important to also be aware that your two witnesses cannot be people who will gain or benefit under your Will. It is not necessary for you to know your witnesses. When you attend the offices of Browne & Murphy Solicitors we will arrange for someone in our office to witness your Will.
- The Will must be dated on the date on which the Will is signed and witnessed. The date can be inserted at the top of the Will or the foot of the Will above the signature.
If any of the above requirements are not followed, then your Will may not be regarded as being a valid Will.
LEAVING A GIFT TO CHARITY IN YOUR WILL
It is important to ensure that the charity you wish to benefit in your Will is sufficiently identified in in your Will. The correct name and address of the charity should be obtained. It is important to ensure that the charity you which to benefit is still in existence.
Difficulties arise where a charity is incorrectly described in a Will or where the charity is no longer in existence and this can lead to the gift left under your Will not going to the charity and falling into the residuary of your estate and the charity left with nothing.
From a tax point of view, if the charity is registered as a charity with the Revenue Commissioners any gift left to them under your Will will be ‘tax free’. If the charity is not registered with the Revenue Commissioners then tax is payable by the charity.
The information set out above is no substitute for specific advice about you personally, therefore if you are thinking about making your Will, please Contact Us to arrange an immediate appointment.