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 Making a Valid Will in Ireland

This web page outlines the elements necessary to produce your own last will and testament.  At first sight the table of contents for delivering your last will may seem a little over the top compared to guidelines you will find on other web pages. The reason for this is simply that the actual writing of your will is only one step in the process if you want to save on costs for executing your will. The majority of web pages dealing with Wills are on solicitors' websites, many of whom offer to maintain your Will free of charge when you engage them to draw up your Will. Some of you may be quite surprised with the cost structures and the scale of charges associated with the execution of a will. Costs associated with probate and administration are normally in the thousands for modest estates and the tens of thousands for larger ones. Making a Valid Will in Ireland includes a sample of a straightforward will, templates for ascertaining and documenting your assets and actions you can take now to reduce execution costs in the future.

1.1          Project Initiation

1.1.1      Project Charter

1.1.2      Success Framework   Specifications   Critical Success Factors   Risk  

1.1.3      Project Constraints   Work Breakdown Structure   Cost   Probate       

1.1.4      Reducing Costs

1.2          Product Work Inputs

1.2.1      Ascertain Estate

1.2.2      Divide Estate   Cash Legacies   Bequests of Specific Property   Percentage Bequest   Residuary Bequest

1.2.4      Templates & Other Material

1.1          Project Initiation

Many people have the intention of making a will but many are reluctant to do so. Your will tells everyone what should happen to your ‘estate’ i.e. money, possessions and property after you die. If you don’t leave a will, the law will decide how your estate is distributed. Where there is no will at all the deceased person’s is said to have died intestate and the next-of-kin becomes the administrator of the estate. In the event that there are no relatives whatsoever the State will inherit the assets.  In 2017 approximately 70% of people in Ireland died intestate. Writing your own will is a practical option if your affairs are straightforward. For example, if you’re married or in a civil partnership and have children and:

•You want to leave everything to your husband or wife, and if they die before you, you want to leave everything to your children on your death.

You may need professional advice to write your will if:

•You own property abroad, If your will has anything to do with items owned in another country, you should check out the law over there also. For example if you have a property in France it is bound by French inheritance law and your Irish Will is irrelevant in relation to it.

•You have foreign investments or bank accounts

•You have dependents other than your immediate family


1.1.1      Project Charter


The over-riding Goal of making a will is to have your assets distributed according to your wishes. The purpose (breakdown of goal) is to:
(a) Provide for those you choose
(b) Save executors and beneficiaries time and money by expediting the legal process


The stakeholders are the testator, family, the executors, beneficiaries, witnesses, the probate services and Revenue.


Making a will is not expensive and well worth the effort to ensure that everything is done correctly and your wishes will be carried out after your death. The total budget for this project is about 4 hours of your time in total over a period of approximately two weeks.

The expenses incurred in administering your estate will be greatly reduced by following project planning elements included here. With a solicitor a standard, straightforward will starts at €150 approximately (2018) with more sophisticated wills costing more, depending on the level of complexity and time required to draft it. The scale of charges for engaging a solicitor to administrate the estate however can be expensive and is dependent on the value of the estate.

Project Roles

Testator – Writes the will and organises for the witnessing and execution of same. A testator must:

•understand that he/she is making a will,

•know the nature and extent of his/her property and

•be able to recall the people who might be expected to benefit from his estate.

•be aged 18 or over (or be – or have been – married),

•act of his/her own free will and

Executor - The executor is the person appointed in a will to administer the estate of a deceased person. He/she is entitled to take out a grant of probate to the estate of the deceased.

Witnesses –Witness the signature of the testator and signs will in the presence of the testator.

Please proceed to "checkout" for details of how to access the complete plan where there is greater detail on roles and responsibilities.

1.1.2      Success Framework   Specifications

If a testator is married, he or she must make proper provision for the other spouse and children. If there are no children, a surviving spouse has a right to half the estate, including the family home. If there are children, he or she has a right to one third of the estate. There are certain rules laid down for making a will. A will should contain:

•the testator’s name and address

•a revocation clause

•a clause appointing at least one (but preferably two or more) executors

•a residuary clause, disposing of the remainder of the estate

•the date the will was made

•the attestation clause stating the signature is written and acknowledged in the presence of two witnesses, both present at the same time but they do not have to see what is written in the will.

•the will must be in writing

•the witnesses must sign in the presence of the testator   Critical Success Factors

(Example) The Critical Success Factors are:

● Adherence to specifications

● Concise details of assets and liabilities

● The location of documents be known to executor   Risk

Risk Identified  Likely Impact
Will not signed, dated and witnessed correctly  Revocation
Names not specific Contest-Revoke
Items Description not Specific Contest-Revoke
Destroy any old wills Wrong Will Used
Items Description not Specific Contest-Revoke
Remarrying and not making new will Revocation


1.  Make sure the will is signed, dated and witnessed correctly using the wording in the sample will.

2.  Carefully check your spelling – be extra careful with the spelling of people’s names.

3.  Be specific relating to describing assets and identifying people.

4.  Destroy any old wills – if you already have a will, make sure you destroy the old one and make sure the new one clearly states that it revokes the old one.

5.  A subsequent marriage.  Set yourself a reminder that a subsequent marriage will automatically revoke all wills made before that event.

1.1.3      Project Constraints

The project inputs explain how the product will be done and are defined, by the work breakdown structure, responsibility chart, schedule, and budget. These inputs are further decomposed into work package activities and tasks.   Work Breakdown Structure

The product work inputs are the resource activities required to deliver each output objective. The product work inputs are:

 Ascertain Estate   List Beneficiaries
Divide Estate Complete Documents

The product work inputs can be further broken down into work packages and depicted graphically in a Work Breakdown Structure. The WBS below is a picture of the project subdivided into hierarchical units of work, and represented as a tree. Please proceed to "checkout" for details of how to access the complete plan.   Cost

There is no cost in monetary terms of making your will, the do it yourself way as outlined here. The benefits in terms of cost savings following your death far outweigh the effort in terms of a few hours in properly documenting and updating the records concerning your assets prior to your death. Remember it is far easier to record something that you are familiar with than for someone else having to search for details concerning your assets.   Probate

A grant of probate a court authorisation, given to an executor, to take charge of the testator’s assets. You can access information and download forms from the probate general office website.

The application is made on a two-page form, accompanied by details of the deceased person’s assets and liabilities, outstanding debts, the death certificate, the will etc. Collecting that information is the hard part if the testator does not leave documents as recommended the complete plan. You don’t need a solicitor to take out probate, particularly where the will is a straightforward one. Having a solicitor might help with a complex will but you would still have to provide the information. Please proceed to "checkout" for details of how to access the complete plan or for further details relating to costs of probate, ckeck out the probate general office website.


1.1.4      Reducing Costs

Currently (2018) the Court Service operates a dual schedule of fees, one for solicitors and another for personal applicants. Please proceed to "checkout" for details of how to access the complete plan.


1.2          Product Work Inputs

This section outlines the specifications for the product to satisfy stakeholder requirements.

1.2.1      Ascertain Estate

The executor must ascertain the entire assets and liabilities of the deceased for Inland Revenue. The format of the templates in the complete plan corresponds with The Inland Revenue Affidavit Part 3 & 6 - Property passing under the Will of the deceased. Please proceed to "checkout" for details of how to access the complete plan.


1.2.2      Divide Estate

The law has made certain restrictions on how you may deal with your estate. Your spouse has a legal right to half of your estate where there are no children. If there are children, your spouse is entitled to one-third of your estate. Your children are not automatically entitled to a part of your estate.   Cash Legacies

Leaving money to a charity, while it is commendable may lead to complications down the road. Leaving a fixed sum can be problematic as the amount stays the same over time. Inflation rate fluctuations could ultimately overvalue or undervalue your charitable gift. €100 today is much less valuable than the same amount 15 years ago.   Bequests of Specific Property

You can leave assets such as land, property, shares and valuables. As with pecuniary gifts, it’s important to remember that the value of an asset can vary enormously over time. If you gift a property, and if that property is no longer owned by you when you die, that gift is void. It is critical to be specific and leave no doubt whatsoever as to what and to whom you are leaving gifts of this nature. Percentage Bequest

A percentage bequest is where you leave a percentage of the net value of the Estate to someone. Bequeathing a set percentage of the net value of your estate can be much more flexible if you are concerned about changes to the value of your estate.   Residuary Bequest

A residuary bequest is where you leave all or a percentage of the residues and remainder of your estate to someone.

1.2.4      Templates & Other Material

The templates and other material included in the complete plan brings you through the step by step process of ensuring that you not only have a validly completed Will but also one that is executable in a timely, stress free fashion resulting in administrative cost savings. Please proceed to "checkout" for details of how to access the complete plan for further details relating to costs of probate.


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