Making a Will sets out what should happen to your assets after your death. Without one, your property will be distributed in accordance with the law and this might not suit your intentions. Where it is particularly important is where you have children under eighteen. In the absence of a Will, one third of your property will pass to your children but because they are under eighteen, nothing can be done with the property unless they are made Wards of Court.
In preparing to make your Will, you need to think about the following.
- Who are your executors to be?
The executors are those who are obliged by law to carry out the terms of your Will. In practice this means attending the offices of your solicitor after you die to ensure that the terms of the Will are carried out. You can have one or more executors but we would generally suggest that you have at least two. This provides for a situation where it might not suit one executor to act. Your executor can be your spouse and can be one of the beneficiaries in the Will. They can be a family member or sometimes they might be a professional like your solicitor or an accountant.
- Your assets.
You must decide how you want your assets distributed. We would encourage a married couple to provide for a situation where both parties pass away (for example in an accident).Your spouse is entitled to claim one third of your estate if they are not provided for in the Will. While your children have no right to anything in your Will, it is open to them to seek an Order from the Court afterwards that they haven’t been properly provided for.
You should prepare a list of your assets before visiting your solicitor to make your Will and this list of assets can be put with your Will to make it easier for your executors to know the extent of your estate.
While the decision as to how to distribute your assets will be entirely yours, we will provide guidance and advice from our experience as to how you might avoid any difficulties after your death.
- Tax consequences.
Inheritance tax has increased in recent years and an important part of the advice we provide is tax planning i.e. ensuring that your beneficiaries pay as little tax as possible.
- Our obligations.
The obligations imposed on solicitors in preparing a Will are very onerous and for that reason the task is taken very seriously. For example, the Courts have found in the past that should the solicitor make any error as a result of which a beneficiary loses out, that beneficiary has a case against the solicitor. The solicitor must do his/her best to ensure that what is contained in the Will can be carried out. In a recent case, a Judge found that because the solicitor didn’t establish that the person making the Will owned the property (it was in the name of his company), he was responsible to the intended beneficiary of the property. Solicitors, therefore, will give great attention to the preparation of the Will.
- The process.
What normally happens is that you attend our offices with a list of your assets and we discuss your Will and take instructions for its preparation. When the Will is prepared, we will write to you telling you so and asking you to call to sign it. Generally, we will not have a will prepared and signed on the same day. We find that preparing in such haste doesn’t give sufficient time for full consideration of the Will.
After you make your Will,Your solicitor will store the Will in their Wills safe and electronically (to provide for fire). Your Will is not effective until you die and you can change it at any time.
What are the costs?
The costs for preparing a Will depend on the complexity of the Will and the time involved. As you can see from the above, there will be at least two meetings and the solicitor will spend considerable time taking instructions and preparing the Will to protect against the dangers outlined above. That being said, the firm would like to see its clients complete Wills and has put in place a reduced cost of €160.00 plus VAT at 23% (€200.00 plus VAT for couples) for straightforward Wills.