When a person dies without having made a valid will (dies intestate), the Succession Act 1965 sets out who shall inherit their estate and in what shares. These rules are not flexible, and may not be the most prudent or the most tax-efficient way to provide for a family, which is why it is preferable to make a will and leave instructions as to how your estate will be distributed.

The rules of intestacy depend on the personal circumstances of the deceased. They provide that if the deceased leaves:

  • A spouse but no children: the spouse takes the full estate.
  • A spouse and children: the spouse inherits two thirds of the estate and the children share one-third. If a child has predeceased the deceased, grandchildren may share their deceased parent’s portion.
  • Children, but no spouse: children take in equal shares. If a child has predeceased the deceased, grandchildren may share their deceased parent’s portion.
  • Predeceased children and living Grandchildren: The grandchildren take in equal shares. If any grandchild has pre-deceased the deceased, great-grandchildren will take their parent’s share.
  • No spouse or children: the parents of the deceased take in equal shares.
  • No spouse, children or parent: brothers and sisters take in equal shares. If any sibling has predeceased the deceased, the children of that sibling will share their parent’s portion.
  • No spouse, children, parents or siblings: nieces and nephews take in equal shares.
  • No spouse, children, parents, siblings, nieces or nephews: the next of kin or nearest blood relative will benefit. Next of kin is established by counting upwards to a direct lineal ancestor and then downwards to the nearest blood relative or relatives.

Where a person has died without a valid will, the rules of intestacy are also relied upon to establish who is entitled to seek permission from the High Court to handle the affairs of the deceased. The process of seeking this permission is known as an application for Letters of Administration.

The above is provided for information purposes and is not intended as legal advice. We, at Fitzsimons Redmond LLP, would be happy to talk to you about making a will, reviewing a will or dealing with the estate of a deceased person. Please contact us on 01-676 3257.

By Lisa Quinn O’Flaherty

Partner at Fitzsimons Redmond LLP