Almost half of the population in Ireland dies intestate, which means without making a will. More than likely they assumed a will did not matter or that their parents, children or siblings
automatically would inherit their possessions.
This is a common misunderstanding and, unfortunately, is not always the case. When someone dies, all of their possessions, finances, and property are brought together, debts are paid off and the remainder is distributed as specified in the will. The deceased’s partner (spouse or civil partner) has certain legal entitlements that cannot be altered, regardless of what is detailed in the will.
If someone has died testate, which means they have made a will, their possessions and property will be distributed as they dictated. If they have failed to elect an executor, an administrator will have to be nominated, typically a solicitor or the next-of-kin.
If there is a will and an executor has been appointed, then the executor will deal with the estate. This means that the executor distributes the estate in accordance with the will and the law and also ensures that the partner (spouse or civil partner) is aware of their right to a legal right share.
The law governing the distribution of the deceased person’s possessions applies when the deceased died Intestate or the will has been denied probate because it has not been made properly or a challenge to it has been successful. To ensure that you have completed a legally binding and
correct will, use a reputable solicitor.
If a will has been denied probate because it has not been made properly or a challenge to it has been successful then the deceased’s estate (their possessions) will be distributed in the following way:
- If the deceased died with a living partner but no children, their partner will get the entire estate;
- If the deceased had a partner and children, their partner gets two-thirds of the estate and the remaining one-third is divided equally among their children; If the deceased had children but no partner, the estate is divided equally among their children;
- If the deceased had no children or partner, then the estate is given, equally, to any living parent of the
- deceased; Where there is no children, partner or parents, the estate is divided, equally, amongst any surviving siblings of the deceased;
- Where there is no children, partner, parents or siblings, the estate will be divided, equally, amongst whoever are the closest relatives at the time of death;
- Unfortunately, if there are no surviving relatives at all, the estate goes to the State. In the case of a cohabiting couple, the deceased’s partner has no legal rights to the estate, although under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act, 2010, a qualified cohabitant may apply for provision from the estate of a deceased cohabitant.
- Speak with your solicitor about any unresolved issues, disputes, questions or queries you may have concerning a loved one’s estate. You will find additional legal information in the Citizens Information Board free booklet, Bereavement.