Having a will is extremely important both for yourself and your loved ones. Here at McGinley, we want to ensure you are fully aware of wills and probate in order to establish that your wishes are fully respected after death.
Can I write a will myself?
While it is possible to write a will yourself, it is strongly advised that you seek legal advice in order to ensure that your wishes can be carried out effectively after your passing. It is an unfortunate fact that many families face disputes following a poorly executed will. Whilst seeking legal advice and assistance when writing a will doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the document will go without disputes, it does help to make your wishes as watertight as possible. This minimises potential deference from your original intent.
Why you should review your will regularly
You should review your will regularly, simply because circumstances change. Your assets, for example, a property you own, may fluctuate in value. Your beneficiary may change, it is possible that your beneficiary may die before you or a new birth may change the way you wish for your assets to be divided. Relationship breakdowns and divorce can also happen, which may change the way you wish your will be enacted.
It is imperative that you regularly review your will to take into account any life changes, otherwise, it might result in your assets not being divided as you would wish at the time of your death.
What happens if you fail to make a will?
Whilst making provisions for your death doesn’t sound like an appealing thing to do, it’s a necessity if you want to ensure that your loved ones are provided for adequately. First and foremost, though, you should obtain legal advice before drafting a will to ensure that your wishes for your assets are respected and protected after your death.
If you fail to leave a valid will, your assets will be divided according to provisions made under the Succession Act 1965. The Succession Act outlines how your estate will be settled according to whom you are survived by. Here are the following clauses:
- A spouse or civil partner but no children: Entire estate.
- A spouse or civil partner and children: one-third of your estate would be divided equally amongst your children with your spouse inheriting the remainder.
- Children but no spouse: your total estate would be divided equally amongst your children.
- Parents but no spouse or children: your entire estate would be shared equally between your two surviving parents or if only one is living your entire estate would be bequeathed to the remaining parent.
- Siblings only: your estate would be divided equally between surviving siblings, with their children also being eligible for a share.
- Nieces and nephews only: Your entire estate would be divided equally.
- Other relatives only: Your entire estate would be equally divided between the nearest surviving relatives.
- No relatives: Your estate would go to the State.
As you can see, based on the Succession Act, it is possible that your assets may not be divided as you would have intended, if given the opportunity. It may be that you would want to proportion unequal shares to various family members, or even that you would like for your assets to be left to a friend or a charity.
Therefore, it’s vital that you write a will to ensure that your assets are divided as you would wish them to be.
What could happen if you don’t review your will?
Whilst your will may encompass your wishes at that moment in time, circumstances can change. It is generally thought that you should review your will every five years, however, it is also advisable to review your will after every substantial life change. Examples of this would be after a house purchase or birth in the family.
If you fail to regularly review your will, it may no longer be fit for purpose. For example, if you survive your main beneficiary, it is possible that upon your death your assets will be subject to the provisions of the Succession Act 1965.
Failing to regularly review your will could result in your assets being divided in ways that you would not have chosen yourself given the opportunity to do so.
Disputes over wills
Disputes regarding wills are, unfortunately, commonplace.
This is why it is imperative to seek legal advice prior to writing a will in order to potentially negate any potential contests made. If you are able to create a will that can explicitly outline your intentions and motivations for the division of assets it would make any disputes less likely to succeed. A poorly written will can be a cause for contention amongst loved ones and can easily be avoided with the employment of a trained professional.
There is also the possibility that you would want to contest the will of a loved one. It’s possible that the deceased may not have reviewed their will or even made one at all and would therefore not have their assets divided how you believe they would have wanted. It is possible to contest the will of a loved one should you feel it would be appropriate.
Disputing a will can be incredibly time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice when contesting a will. An expert solicitor trained in wills and probate will be able to advise you on whether the claim would have any merit and the likelihood of success.
McGinley Law solicitors have a dedicated team of professionals who specialise in wills and legal services and who would be more than capable of handling any query you have with empathy and diligence. With offices in both Dublin and Donegal, McGinley Law has been established for over 30 years and we pride ourselves on our professionalism and level of expertise. Please feel free to contact us for more information and assistance regarding wills and probate.