First Time Buyers – the importance of making a Will.
When you begin the process of buying your first home, sometimes it can feel like your head will explode with all the thoughts running through it. Will I get mortgage approval? What will show up on the survey? Are there any planning issues? What furniture do I need? When can I move in? The list goes on.
In the excitement, a lot of First Time Buyers don’t even ask: What if something happens to me? For many, making a Will would not be high on the priority list, but it should be. Contrary to popular belief it is a very simple, very painless process; often avoided because people find the subject of death, understandably, rather morbid. However by making a Will, what you are really doing is letting your family know your wishes if the unthinkable happened, thus avoiding a lot of additional, unnecessary stress.
If you are like most First Time Buyers, you would have had to get a mortgage with Life Cover to assist with the purchase. So if, God forbid, you were in an accident, your Estate would include a debt-free property; it is your responsibility to ensure it would be left to who you’d want to leave it to. It may surprise you to learn that nearly 75% of Irish adults don’t have a Will. If someone owns a substantial asset like property, they should consider the implications of not having a Will. Where there is no Will, a person is said to die “intestate”.
What happens on Intestacy?
This situation is governed by the Succession Act 1965, which sets out who is entitled to your Estate should something happen to you and there is no Will. In brief, if you have a spouse or civil partner and no children, your spouse or civil partner will inherit your entire Estate. If you have a spouse or civil partner and children, your spouse or civil partner will inherit two-thirds of your Estate, and the remaining third goes to your children (this can be particularly problematic if the children are minors). If you have neither spouse, civil partner nor children, your parents will inherit your Estate. If your parents are deceased, your Estate is divided between your siblings, and so on. A lot of property owners would want their assets to be distributed differently. The only way to do this is to make a Will.
What makes a valid Will?
For a Will to be valid, certain criteria must be met. The person making the Will, known as the Testator, must be aged over 18 and be of sound mind. There can be no question of undue influence. The Testator needs to appoint an Executor, who is the person that would administer the Estate if something happened. The Testator obviously needs to name a beneficiary, or beneficiaries, and they should include a “residuary clause” toward the end of the Will which would deal with any assets not already specified in the main part of the Will. The Will must be signed and dated in the presence of two witnesses who are present at the same time. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries in the Will.
There are many other aspects to making a Will and therefore it is always advisable to get it done properly by a professional. If a Will is executed incorrectly, it might not be worth the paper it is written on.
What do I do now?
Seek legal advice about making a Will. A solicitor can advise you on areas that you may not have even considered, such as a spouse’s Legal Right Share, children’s rights, trusts, inheritance tax, possible tax reliefs, the effects of a change in circumstances, advancement, etc. When a solicitor drafts the Will, you will have peace of mind in the knowledge that it has been done by a professional and there is no doubt about whether your wishes would be followed if something happened to you.
Contact solicitor Susan Murphy at MakeMyWill Solicitors – you can give her your instructions over the phone or by email, at a time that suits you, and your Will will be professionally drafted to suit your particular needs. At a time when you are buying your first home, you won’t want to take time out of your busy schedule to go to a solicitor’s office to make your Will. MakeMyWill Solicitors takes the hassle out of it. The standard fee is €98.00 per Will, or €160.00 per couple making similar Wills. Call Susan today on 086-8377559.