Have you made your will?

Posted on 12 January 2020

As you all know, your home is one of your most valuable assets. We recently came accross this interesting question and answer type article in the Irish Independent which underlines the importance having such a simple instruction prepared.

County Kilkenny is not by any means the cheapest county to invest when it comes to the purchase of a family home. Kilkenny properties are sought after and property inheritance structure is vital and yet a simple document that your local solicitor can put in place for a very low cost.

Q Myself and my husband are approaching 60 and we don’t have a will. We have three adult children and two grandchildren. I’d like to have some preparation done before we approach a solicitor. Is there a template of questions that we could use?

A Making a will is extremely important. In its absence, a court (after a lengthy, complex and expensive process) gets to decide how your estate should be distributed and this may not be in accordance with your wishes.

Will-making is a solicitor’s bread and butter, so you’ll be able to find one fairly easily. Before you have the meeting, it’s a good idea to write down your questions and what constitutes your ‘estate’. This essentially just means what you own, and who you wish to leave it to.

The simplest of wills is generally drawn to leave everything to your spouse in the first instance, and after both of you pass, to your children/grandchildren and any other people or organisations (eg charities) that you like.

I think it’s a good idea to write down on a piece of paper things like life insurance policies (the company and policy number), bank accounts, post office savings, investments, house deeds, shares, etc. You want to avoid people rummaging around looking for papers and documents. Laying them out in an asset list simplifies this and it can be kept with your will. You may have very personal bequests, like leaving a piece of jewellery to a specific person, or a painting to someone else. You are under no obligation to leave anything to anybody (but a spouse is entitled to two-thirds of your estate).

You can box clever tax-wise by minimising the liability your beneficiaries will have to Revenue. Your children are entitled to receive €335,000 each, grandchildren €32,500 and non-relatives €16,500 before incurring a liability, so bear these amounts in mind. Then, you need to decide who your executor will be. This could be your children (even though they are beneficiaries) and will be the person(s) whose job it is to distribute the estate according to the will. The will cannot be witnessed by a beneficiary, but the solicitor will oblige.

Finally, please tell someone where your will is kept! So many come to light years later, after all the wrangling when it causes consternation.

Source: Sinead Ryan, Irish Independent 22 November 2019