1. If a person dies without having made a will (intestate), his /her assets will pass to the next of kin- usually their closest relatives. In the case of a married man/woman with children , the surviving spouse takes two-thirds, the children one-third between them.
2. If a widow or widower dies without making a Will, leaving children, the children inherit equally. If the widow or widower also had a child or children who predeceased them, and that child has children, those grandchildren take the share that their parent would otherwise have taken, had they been alive. It is easier to understand by example- if a widowed mother without a will dies, survived by a son and a daughter but also had a daughter that died before her leaving 2 children (the widow’s grandchildren) the widow’s estate passes as to a third to the surviving son, a third to the surviving daughter and a third to the children of the predeceased daughter- these 2 grandchildren take between them the third which would have gone to their mother had she been alive at the time of the widows death.
3. Even if there is a will, the surviving spouse, by law, has a certain minimum entitlement called the legal right share. Even if the will gives the surviving spouse less, he/she is entitled to one-half of the deceased spouse’s estate (if there are no children), or one-third of the estate if there are children and the surviving spouse can elect to take their legal right share instead of the bequest under the Will.
4. Children have no automatic right to a share in their parents’ estate (unless there is no Will). However a child, who feels their parent has not provided for them properly (or at all) in their Will, can bring a claim under s117 of the Succession Act 1965 claiming a share in their parents estate, to be determined by the Court.
5. If a single person (without children) dies without making a Will, leaving siblings, they will inherit equally. If there are any siblings that died before the recently deceased brother/sister (predeceased them), leaving children, those nieces and nephews take the share that their parents would otherwise have taken.
6. If you inherit money/property on the death of someone, you may be liable for inheritance tax. Under current rules, you can inherit up to €225,000 tax free from a parent (a Group A threshold), up to €30,150 tax free from a relative such as grandparent/sibling/uncle/aunt (a Group B threshold) and up to €15,075 from a “stranger” (a Group C threshold -usually someone who does not fit into the relationship categories in Group A and B). You can take a gift of up to €3,000 tax free from any one disponer in any year.
7. These thresholds are lifetime thresholds – so in the course of your lifetime you can take up to €225,000 in total from mother and father (not €225,000 each). Similarly the €30,150 is the lifetime threshold all in respect of all gifts/inheritances received from anyone in Group B – so if you inherit a property from an aunt and money from a grandfather and shares from a brother they are all added up together and once the value of the combined gifts/inheritance exceeds the threshold, gift/inheritance tax is payable. Again its easiest to understand by example:
Anne took an inheritance of €30,000 from her grandmother in 2005. In 2008 she took a gift of €40,000 from her aunt. Both of these benefits fall within Group B above, therefore they are aggregated. As the first benefit of €30,000 was below the Group B threshold, no tax applied. However, when Anne took the gift of €40,000 her total benefits from Group B were €70,000 which exceeded the Group B threshold, and tax applied on the excess
8. The rate of inheritance tax is currently 33%. If you inherit a house worth €300,000 from a parent, as the threshold is €225,000 the balance of €75,000 is taxable at 33% – a tax bill of €25,000!!
9. Minors (children under 18) cannot hold money or property in their own right – if you want to leave money/property to a child under 18 you will have to leave it to Trustees to hold for the minor child until they reach 18.
10. Where parents of a child are not married to each other and where the father is not the legal guardian, if the mother dies, the child will have no legal guardian – it is essential that single parents ensure there are arrangements in place for guardianship to protect their children in the event of their death whilst children under 18.