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Can my two sisters inherit my home if I die without making a will?

Property Clinic: You must make a will if you want a say over who inherits your property

If you die without making a will, your property will be distributed according to the law.

We are a married couple in our early 70s with no children. We have not made wills as I assumed if I passed away, everything would go to my wife and vice versa. However the house is in my name only, and recently a friend suggested that if I passed away it would go to my wife and my two sisters. Is this true? I would appreciate some information on this possibility happening.

William O’Connor writes: If you want to have a say over who inherits your property you should both make a will.

A will sets out what you want to happen to your property after you die. It is ambulatory, meaning that it can be changed or revoked during your lifetime.

If you die without making a will, your property will be distributed according to law. The law on succession in Ireland is governed by the Succession Act 1965.

If a person dies without a will they are deemed to have died intestate. Section 3(1) of the Act states: “an intestate” means a person who leaves no will or leaves a will but leaves undisposed of some beneficial interest in his estate”.

The Act provides clear and unambiguous rules as to the entitlements of the next of kin of a person who dies intestate. It also provides the shares of the estate to which those who are entitled on an intestacy.

‘Intestate married’

If you “die intestate married, without children” your spouse shall take all of your property, after the payment of your debts, funeral and testamentary expenses.

However, if you die intestate and your spouse predeceased you leaving no children or parent, your property shall be distributed between your siblings in equal share. If any of your siblings do not survive you, the surviving children of the deceased brother or sister shall, where any other brother or sister of the deceased survives you, take in equal shares the share that their parent would have taken if he or she had survived you.

By making a will you can choose who your property will be given to on your death otherwise it will be distributed according to the provisions of the Succession Act.

If you have further queries in relation to the matter you should consult a solicitor.

William O’Connor is a partner and solicitor at P O’Connor & Son solicitors, poconsol.ie

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