Inheritance Law Solicitor Cork and Midleton: A Challenge for Families
Inheritance Solicitor Cork and Midleton
What many children may not be aware of is that there is no absolute right under law that says offspring are entitled to inherit any of their parent’s estate. Karen Walsh of Walsh and Partners Solicitors LLP talks about a challenging part of inheritance law, as an inheritance law solicitor in Cork, her experience and in-depth knowledge is invaluable for families.
In my article published in the examiner, I talked about a reader who was concerned about a woman that her father had recently started dating. The reader had a concern that this new partner could have some sort of claim on her father’s estate once he had passed.
In Ireland, the Law Reform Commission have proposed alterations to the legislation with regards to inheritance and children. Let’s take a look at this.
Inheritance Law, Wills and Estate Planning, Cork, Ireland
The most notable change proposed was to section 117 of the 1965 Succession Act. A child has no right to inherit a parent’s property or estate when they die, unlike spouses or civil partners who have prioritised rights in this case.
There is however an application process currently in existence that allows a child to make a Section 117 application to the courts if they feel they have not been adequately provided for in a last will and testament. This application allows the child to state that the parent has failed in their moral duty to provide proper provision for their care (in accordance with means).
Where an application like this arises, each case is assessed on its own unique merits.
Prudent and Just
Inheritance Solicitor Cork, Midleton and Dublin
The new proposal is that this Section 117 application could be changed to accommodate only a ‘needs based’ approach.
The proposal will allow for only three exceptions, allowing children only to make a Section 117 application in these circumstances:
(1) Where health requirements have not been provided for in the will. (Where long-term health issues are a concern)
(2) Where the child has put their own career, needs or life on hold to care for a sick parent.
(3) Where sentimental value is of importance (and can be proven).
The Law Reform Commission are not seeking to remove section 117 applications, they are simply seeking to streamline the process to discourage unnecessary disputes and irregular or non-justifiable applications.
Walsh and Partners LLP Cork, specialists in Inheritance Law
Irish courts may be faced with challenging questions if this proposed change comes into effect. Large assets will have to be carefully considered, are they really sentimental or is the vale the most appealing aspect here for the applicant. One could say that a farm, house or business holds sentimental value, in these cases this could cause challenges for the deciding court. The vagueness of ‘sentimentality’ requires clarification in order to assist the courts in these instances.
There will be many unique circumstances to consider, all of which will uncover further clarifications required. How severe do these health needs need to be to qualify for a S117 exemption? Can a child claim a S117 exemption if they simply live at home? This all remains to be seen for now.
The reason for these proposed changes are because of the change in demographics in Ireland since the legislation was first enacted in 1965. Families are smaller, each generation is living longer than the last, children are living at home in some cases into their thirties and forties. With fewer relatives to care for an ageing generation, this poses some unique problems that need addressing. Financial wellbeing for many years after retirement is now a top priority for most, as is the prospect of paying for long-term care, either residential or in the home.
With almost all children in a household educated to a minimum of second level and with a substantial portion of the younger population educated to college or university level, this can lead to parents spending more on education than previous generations and maybe, they shouldn’t have to be further financially burdened or provide further support.
In conclusions, if this proposed amendment is enacted, it will make it more difficult for children to make S117 applications and seek inheritance where their parents have not provided for them in their wills. The burden of proof of eligibility will lie with the child making the application and this could be difficult to determine.
Walsh and Partners Solicitors LLP is based on the South Mall in Cork and also has offices in Midleton and Dublin City Centre. Karen Walsh, the Principal, writes a weekly column in the Irish Examiner Farming Supplement and is considered one of the most experienced farming and family law solicitors in the Country.
While every care is taken to ensure accuracy of information contained in this article, solicitor Karen Walsh does not accept responsibility for errors or omissions howsoever arising, and you should seek legal advice in relation to your particular circumstances at the earliest possible time.