Wills, Probate and Administration of Estates is an area of law which has real relevance for everybody. It deals with the making of Wills and succession, which is concerned with the distribution of a person’s assets following their death. Probate and Administration of Estates is the collection, valuation and distribution of a person’s assets following their death.
The main legislative bases for this area of law are the Succession Act, 1965 and the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003, but other taxes and conveyancing law are also extremely important in this area.
By making a Will, a person can control what is to happen to their assets, and who should inherit their assets, on their death. A person who dies leaving a Will is referred to as a person dying “testate”. A person who dies who has not made a valid Will is referred to as a person dying “intestate”. Subject to certain provisions of the Succession Act, a person who leaves a valid will on death can decide, through the Will, how his or her property is to be distributed among beneficiaries named in the Will. The person appoints an Executor (or Executors) in the Will who will carry out the person’s intentions and ensure that the various beneficiaries receive what is given to them in the person’s Will.
Making a will always involves tax planning, enabling a person to ensure that their assets are distributed on their death in the most tax efficient way. Tax issues as well as provision for minor beneficiaries (persons under 18 years of age) or vulnerable adults may also involve setting up trusts in the will.
A person who dies intestate has no control over how his or her assets are distributed on death. Instead, their assets are distributed under the Rules of Intestacy which are set out in the Succession Act.
It is vital that a person receives clear, expert advice from their solicitor when drawing up their Will. This will ensure that the Will properly reflects the person’s wishes and that all relevant information, including taxation advice, is given and understood. A Will speaks from death. This means that a person is free to make a new Will, or indeed any number of subsequent Wills, up to the date of their death. This ensures that the last validly made Will properly reflects a person’s wishes as to whom they want to inherit their assets on their death.
At Porter Morris LLP Solicitors, we advise clients to review their Wills as life changes occur and as tax legislation is amended. Very often a person will want to change his or her Will as their assets change value, as intended beneficiaries pass away, or as other life changing events occur.
It is equally vital that Executors acting in the administration of estates receive clear, expert and timely advice on all aspects of Probate and Administration of estates. Expert advice and guidance may be needed on such matters as preparation of Inland Revenue Affidavits, preparing and lodging applications for Grants of Probate, Capital Acquisitions Tax, distribution of assets, property sales and preparation of estate accounts.