While you will see many articles about the importance of making a will and the consequences of so doing, you will see fewer articles explaining what happens if you do not make a will. One misconception that is often recited is that if you die without a will then the State is entitled to all or part of the property, assets, shares and money that you own in your sole name as of the date of your death. In fact, the legal position is that this only occurs in exceptional cases where a person dies with no living relative. The reality is that most people in Ireland have relatives which include extended family members such as second or third cousins.
When you die without a will orif your will is invalid for whatever reason you are described as having died intestate. The rules of intestacy as contained in the Succession Act, 1965 as amended, set out how your property including money etc is to be distributed as of the date of your death.
It is also possible to have a partial intestacy where part of a person’s property is distributed in accordance with their will and the remainder of their property distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
The rules for division of property on intestacy are as follows:
If the deceased is survived by;
– spouse/civil partner but no children -spouse/civil partner gets entire estate
– spouse/civil partner and children -spouse/civil partner gets two-thirds, one-third isdivided equally between children (if a child has already died his/her children take a share)
– parents, no spouse/civil partner or children -divided equally or entirely to one parent if only one survives
– children, no spouse/civil partner -divided equally between children (as above)
– brothers and sisters only -shared equally, the children of a deceased brother or sister take the share
– nieces and nephews only -divided equally between those surviving
-other relatives -divided equally between nearest equal relationship
– no relatives -the State
You will see from these rules of distribution that it is only in the extreme case that there are no relatives at all that the State will acquire the property of a deceased.
If you are not happy for these rules of intestacy to apply to your property as of your date of death then you should make a will which will clearly set out how your property is to be distributed.
Take Action now and consult with your solicitor