Making a will is one of the most important decisions that you will ever make.
As a legal document, it ensures that proper arrangements are made for family and friends, and that your estate is distributed in the way you wish after you die, subject to certain rights and conditions.
With so many benefits associated with this important process, the decision to make a will should be straightforward. However, only three in every ten Irish adults have made a will.
If your wishes are not expressed in a will, then the law (called Succession Law) determines how your estate is distributed according to strict legal rules. It can also mean that your estate might not be divided in accordance with your wishes.
Why make a will?
There are a number of important reasons why a person should make a will, but the most important reason is that you decide what happens to your estate when you are gone. Your will should be prepared by a solicitor, who is best placed to advise you of the tax and legal implications of your decisions and who will use your outlined instructions to draft your will. Before making an appointment with your solicitor, take note of the following:
Your assets, their value and their location.
Your nearest relatives.
Your executor(s) – this is the person(s) that will administer the estate in accordance with the directions set out in the will. This person should be someone that you trust and who is responsible.
The proposed division of your estate – which refers to all of the money, property, assets, interests and things of value controlled by a person while alive.
Your solicitor can then take you through any legal restrictions (if applicable), special circumstances, inheritance tax and types of will.
When should you make a will?
To make a will you must be 18 years or older, be of sound mind and acting of your own free will. Your will must be in writing and must be signed by two witnesses for it to be valid.
There are a number of key events in the course of a lifetime that act as a trigger to make a will. These include:
When you get married
If you are going abroad
If you get divorced or separated
When you buy/inherit a house or become the owner of property or cash
When you start a family
Upon retirement, getting older or if suffering from an illness
Remember, you can change your will at any time and as often as you like. In fact, it is highly recommended that you regularly review your will, especially if your circumstances have changed.
Best Will Week is an annual campaign run with Giles J. Kennedy & Co, with the group of almost 80 Irish charities that have come together to highlight the importance of making a will and the enduring legacy of leaving a gift to your favourite charity in your will.
During Best Will Week, participating solicitors across the country offer initial will consultations to discuss making a will. Those who do avail of the will consultations and who go on to have a will made or updated in a subsequent appointment are encouraged to consider leaving a gift to their favourite charity in their will after loved ones have been looked after.
Making a will week Ireland 2016 F.A.Q.
Q. If I avail of a will consultation do I have to make a will?
No, there is no obligation.
Q. If I make a will during Best Will Week do I have to leave a gift to my favourite charity?
No you don’t. Best Will Week aims to promote Legacy giving and the difference it could make to your favourite charity. However, leaving a gift is your choice.
Q. I would like to leave a gift but I don’t have lots of money?
You can chose to leave a gift of any amount in your will and whatever gift you leave, it will have a positive impact.
Q. My local solicitor isn’t participating in Best Will Week?
If you already have a solicitor and they are not taking part in Best Will Week, you can still consult with them about making a will or to arrange leaving a gift to a favourite charity.
Q. I don’t have time during Best Will Week to make an appointment?
Best Will Week aims to promote making a will and leaving a gift to a charity of your choice. However you can arrange with your solicitor to make or change your will at any time.
Q. Can I change my mind if I have arranged to leave a gift?
Yes, you can make changes to your will at any time, just speak to your solicitor.
Q. If I leave a gift in my will to a charity do I need to let them know?
There is no obligation on you to let a charity know that you have left a gift to them in your will. However, charities want to thank their donors for their support so they would be delighted to hear from you.
Q. What is the cost to people who avail of these will consultations?
Participating solicitors will offer initial consultations on making a will. They will give expert legal advice on the process of making a will and the important decisions you might need to consider. As some wills are more complex than others, your solicitor will discuss any costs to make your will directly with you. Very often it is much more straightforward and cost effective than you might think.
Q. Why should solicitors consider signing up to participate in Best Will Week?
Best Will Week is an opportunity for solicitors to meet new clients which can mean new or repeat business opportunities. The campaign is also an opportunity for solicitors to remind their clients that leaving a gift to charity is something worthwhile to consider.
Q. What sort of gifts are charities seeking in a will?
Any gift is beneficial to a charity no matter how big or small; for example, it could be a sum of money, property, antiques or a car. All legacies are an extremely valuable source of income to charities who rely on the generosity & support of the general public.
Q. How many people living in Ireland have a will?
My Legacy commissioned research which was carried out by Amárach Research in September 2015 on behaviour & attitudes to will making in Ireland. It showed that only three in every ten people living in Ireland have made a will. 57% of over 55’s have already drafted a will. Two thirds of those aged 25 – 34 have not yet drafted a will and only a fifth of 35 – 44 year olds have prepared a will which is surprising when you consider this is a time.