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This week we look at the question of Wills, and whether they are really necessary, how to go about doing it if you feel you need to, and the risks in not having one in place.....even if you aren't going to die for another 70 years!
A Will (as you may well know) is a means to leave instruction over how and to whom you want your assets such as money, property, personal items, other assets (your worldly goods/estate) divided when you do die (I do prefer to use the word 'die' as opposed to 'pass away, leave this place, or any other term, because it is what it is!).
You can set out who you want to be guardian of your children, which is sort of important! You can also leave a request in your Will about what type of funeral you want, or any special request you may have. One such request you may not have heard before came from the creator of the Pringles tube, Larry Baur, who requested in his Will to be cremated upon death, and buried in an empty Pringles can. His family duly obliged....
We also hear of seemingly odd Wills over the years, people leaving vast fortunes to their monkeys, cats etc. Having said that the vast majority of us may not be leaving vast fortunes however it is often the case that when mortgage-free property is included in an estate the sums can be sizeable non the less. Therefore it pays to give it some consideration and planning. In Financial Planning circles they call this Estate Planning (more on that soon!). It is a key consideration when organising one's finances and planning for the future.
So How Do You Do One:
Good news is you can do it with a Solicitor (most common), or you can do it yourself! Here's the current legal requirements you need to consider in order to create a valid Will:
- The will must be in writing
- You must be over 18
- You must be of sound mind
- You must sign or mark the will or acknowledge the signature or mark in the presence of two witnesses
- Your two witnesses must sign the will in your presence
- Your two witnesses cannot be people who will gain from your will and they must be present with you at the same. The witnesses' spouses/civil partners also cannot gain from your will.
- Your witnesses must see you sign the will but they do not have to see what is written in it
- The signature or mark must be at the end of the will
- That's it!
These are the legal requirements and if they any of them are not met, the will is not valid. If you want to change your will after you make it, you can add a codicil (amendment or change) to your will; this codicil must meet the same requirements set out above. Check out www.citizensinformation.ie for all the ins and outs.
If I Don't Have One:
The Succession Act 1965 sets out that if you die without a valid Will then your assets (estate) are divided in a certain way, irrespective of what you might have hoped or thought prior to your departure!
The table below sets out pretty clearly what will happen your assets if you do not have a Will in place when you die.....
|Circumstances:||Who Gets Your Assets??|
|A spouse/civil partner but no children||Your spouse/civil partner gets 100%|
|A spouse/civil partner and children||Your spouse/civil partner gets 66.7% of your estate and the remaining 33.3% is divided equally among your children. If one of your children has died, that share goes to his/her children|
|Children, but no spouse/civil partner||Your estate is divided equally among your children (or their children)|
|Parents, but no spouse/civil partner or children||Your estate is divided equally between your parents or, if only one parent survives, your estate is given entirely to one parent|
|Brothers and sisters only||Your estate is shared equally among them, with the children of a deceased brother or sister taking his/her share|
|Nieces and nephews only||Your estate is divided equally among those surviving|
|Other relatives only||Your estate is divided equally between the nearest equal relationship|
|No relatives||100% to the State|
So, whats the point in sharing the above? Well if you want anything other than what is set to happen given your circumstances above you need to set it out in a valid Will!
If I Do Have A Will:
If you do have a Will your estate is divided as per that Will. Almost!
That same Succession Act also works to ensure protection for certain people in your life, irrespective of what you put in your Will, and arguably that's for the best. Even if you do up a Will outlining that you are giving all your assets to the Dog's Home leaving your husband or wife off your wish-list the Act protects him or her, and any kids. Here's how:
|A spouse/civil partner but no children||Your spouse/civil partner entitled to 50%|
|A spouse/civil partner and children||Your spouse/civil partner is entitled to 33.3% of your estate. Civil Partner entitlement is subject to the financial needs of any children being met as directed by the courts|
So there you have it, if you have one you can largely divide your estate as you wish (with above conditions) however if you don't have one you get no say as to how it is allocated.
Bearing in mind that you now know what is involved in doing one, what the risks are in not doing one, the simplicity of doing one, whats stopping you!?
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