Making a will is one of the important things you can do to protect your farm and your family’s future, writes Karen Walsh.

MAKING a will is one of the important things you can do to protect your farm and your family’s future.

Yet it is surprising to see how many do not make wills, or how many wish to make one but do not find the time to do so.

With a new year commencing, it is a good time to do so, you should contact a solicitor in order to do this.

When somebody makes a will and if they die, they die testate.

If a person dies without making a will, the rules of intestacy apply, governing who is entitled to receive a person’s property should they die.

This can often mean that the deceased person’s property is distributed in a manner that does not necessarily reflect their wishes.

To provide some clarity on this, the rules of intestacy are as follows.

– Where the deceased leaves a spouse/civil partner only, the entire estate passes to the surviving spouse/civil partner.

– Where the deceased leaves a spouse or civil partner, and children, the spouse or civil partner inherits two thirds of the estate and the children inherit the remaining one third in equal shares.

– Where the deceased leaves no parent alive, the estate is divided equally between the children.

– Where the deceased dies without a spouse or civil partner, children, or parent, the estate is divided between his or her brothers and sisters in equal shares.

– Where the deceased dies without a spouse or civil partner, children, parent, brothers or sisters, all nephews and nieces take equally.

– Where there are no relatives, the state takes the entire of the estate.

When you make a will, you also get to decide who will administer your estate.

A will allows you to name the person or persons who would be the most suitable and who will ensure your wishes are carried out.

These are known as executors, and they are appointed when you make a will.

When you make a will, you have control over who is to benefit from your estate, and you can ensure that all your loved ones are looked after

It is particularly important to make a will if you have young children and want to provide appropriate care for them after your death.

This is known as appointing guardians. If you have young children, the will establishes a trust fund for their benefit, an appoints guardians of your choice to look after them.

Another important term to be familiar with is the ‘residue’, which is the term used to describe what property of yours is left over after the deduction of specific gifts, debts, legacies, tax and the expenses of the estate.

Livestock, bloodstock, plant and machinery should be mentioned specifically in your will, otherwise they may fall to the person or persons entitled to the residue of your estate.

Careful will drafting can have a significant impact on the level of inheritance tax which will be paid.

It provides an opportunity to assess the position and consider what steps can be taken to minimise the inheritance tax liability.

By making a will you can also choose to create a life interest for someone, possibly a spouse, or a child with special needs.

A life interest entitles someone to a right to enjoy the use of a property exclusively, or the income that the capital generates during their lifetime.

Once that person passes away, it will revert to the beneficiary you choose.

Nobody likes to contemplate their own death, but it is one thing in life that will happen.

It is essential that you make a will, and we would recommend you contact a solicitor in the New Year, and they will advise and prepare a will for you.

 

Karen Walsh is from a farming background and is a solicitor practicing at Walsh & Partners Solicitors, 17, South Mall, Cork (Tel. 021-4270200). She is the author of ‘Farming and the Law’. Walsh & Partners also specialises in personal injury claims, conveyancing, probate and family law. Email: info@walshandpartners.ie or find on web at www.walshandpartners.ie