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How to make a valid will in Ireland
The person who makes a will is known either as a testator (male) or testatrix (female). Essentially, your will is a legal document that sets out how you want your property and assets divided in the event of your death. A person can have many different wills, but the one that is valid is the one that is made last.
For your will to be considered valid in Ireland, there are several conditions that need to be met:
You must be 18 years old or older.
You must do so of your own free will, and be of sound mind and memory (you must understand what you are doing.)
You must put your will in writing, and either you, or someone appointed by and authorised by you must sign it.
Two witnesses must sign the will in your presence (not necessarily in the other witness’s presence though.)
You have to understand that you are making a will, and what that means.
You have to know the extent of your property and belongings (your estate.)
You must remember the people who you want to benefit from your estate.
There have been cases where courts have accepted x’s and other marks in place of a signature, but this can make it hard to prove that it is in fact your will. If you cannot sign the will, then you will need to have a sworn statement made by someone who was present to confirm that it was you who signed the document.
Generally, you will sign before the witnesses on the document and they will sign immediately under you. Anything that is written after the signatures is generally ignored, so make sure that everything you want to be carried out is covered before the signatures on your will.
If your will does not comply with Irish regulations, there are still some cases where it will be considered valid. These include:
If the will complies with the relevant regulations of the place where it was written and signed
If it complies with the laws of your home country if you are not originally from Ireland
If it complies with the laws of the country that you were living in, or where you died
If it complies with the laws of the country where any immovable property is located
If it was made while in the air, or at sea, and it complies with the nearest country to you at the time
There are several other regulations that govern the making of a legally binding will. First of all, if you need a sworn statement, you will need to get one from a doctor or lawyer who was present at the time of the signing of the will. You cannot have a blind person sign as a witness, although a blind person can sign his or her own will, if there is a sworn statement proving that he or she was the signatory. Witnesses and their spouses cannot benefit from a will, nor can a solicitor who was involved in drawing it up. In some cases, however, there are exceptions.
If you give a witness or their spouse a duty, such as a debt
If the money or property is to be held in trust for someone else
If the witness and the testator (or testatrix) married after the will was signed.
If there is a subsequent codicil signed by someone else.
When it comes to the contents of your will, there are several things that need to be present in order for a will to be valid.
Your name and address
A revocation clause (this revokes any previous wills you have made)
A clause that names one or two (or more, but preferably two) executors
A list of legacies and devises, as well as a residuary clause that explains how any remaining property will be disposed of
Your signature, and the attestation or testamonium clause
Even if you have a will, which does not name your spouse and children as beneficiaries, it may be ruled invalid by a court. That’s because your spouse has a legal right to half of your estate, and your children to one third. There are certain circumstances, such as desertion, or revocation while you are still alive, that can exclude your spouse from your will in spite of their legal right. These rights are also suspended in the event of separation or divorce.
In short, there is a lot that goes into drawing up a legal and binding will, and speaking to a solicitor to make sure that yours is valid and binding is a very good idea.