Frequently Asked Questions

Will a will made in Ireland properly deal with any assets owned outside the country such as a holiday home in France?

In Ireland a valid will allows you to dispose of your assets, in broad terms, as you wish. This is subject to your spouse’s “legal right share” under the Succession Act and your children’s entitlements to apply to court if proper provision has not been made for them).
The situation in the UK is similar.  However in some countries, including France, there are rules that govern who owns or receives property. These cannot be set aside by a will.  In legal terms they are known as “forced heirship” or “community property” rules. It is dangerous to assume when you are making an Irish will that the laws of this country will cover any assets outside the country. Always seek legal advice.

What is the spouse’s “legal rights share?”

Where an individual has made a will and is survived by a spouse and no children the surviving spouse has a right to one half of the estate.  Where an individual has made a will and is survived by a spouse and children the spouse has a right to a one third of the estate. This is the spouse’s “legal right share”.

If I obtain a divorce outside Irish jurisdiction will this cause complications in the distribution of my assets after my death?

It is often the case that a foreign divorce is not legally recognised in Ireland.  Likewise, any marriage subsequent to a foreign divorce may not be recognised.   It is always advisable to seek legal advice in any planning for the future to avoid legal difficulties after your death.  The first spouse might be regarded as the lawful spouse and entitled to the Succession Act rights in Ireland including the spouse’s “legal right share”. This can and has caused unfortunate complications for second families.

The term movable and immovable property can sometimes be used in legal documents what does this mean and does it have any implications?

Movable property is property that can be physically removed or relocated.  Cash in bank accounts, shares in a company, paintings, cars, jewelery, books, personal diaries etc would be deemed as movable property. Immovable property would usually refer to houses and land.
The difference can be significant. In general the law of the country where the property is situated governs immovable property.  The country in which the owner lived governs movable property.  The legal treatment of immovable and movable property may be governed by laws in two different countries. This distinction is especially important if the immovable property for instance, is a holiday home outside Ireland (see question one).

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