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Succession Act Legal Right Share

Can you explain Legal Right Share under the Succession Act? Thanks. Colm.

Can you explain Legal Right Share under the Succession Act? Thanks. Colm.

 

Hi Colm,

There’s a bit of history to the Succession Act 1965. When Charlie Haughey was Minister for Justice in the early 60s he wanted to do something about the phenomenon of a husband (usually a farmer) willing his property  to one son to the exclusion of his wife and other children. Remember it was almost always the case that a house, business or farm was solely owned by the man in those days.

And so the idea of the Legal Right Share under the Act was introduced and this guaranteed that in a marriage no matter what a will said, the widow/widower would have rights. If there were children, the surviving spouse was entitled to one third of the estate. If there were no children, then the spouse could insist on half.

Sections 111 – 116 along with Section 56 of the Act set out the rules in a clear and easy to follow way. It’s worth a read if you’re interested in the topic.

Interestingly Section 117 introduced a totally new concept of the rights for all of the children in that it required the parents to provide for them “as a just and prudent parent would.”  This meant that unless there was a good reason, a parent could not disinherit or significantly disfavour a child in the division of the estate on death.

Declan Carty: What if one of the kids are disabled? Would that be grounds to disinherit the others?

Brian: With a physically or mentally disabled child, a parent who sets up a proper trust fund for that child is simply doing their duty under Section 117. But the parents can’t simply forget the other children. If there’s enough money in the estate left over after the handicapped child’s future is seen to then the needs of the rest of the  children should be taken into account.

Declan Carty: What age are you talking about for “children” to have Section 117 rights?

Brian: There’s no age limit. If the parents live to be very old and the children are in their 40s there is still the Section 117 obligation. At this age level the dynamics can change. If there are 3 children, one a multi-millionaire, another a teacher on a fixed salary and the third who stays at home to look after the aging parents, the courts would likely recognise the justice in the parents favouring the stay at home child.

Declan Carty: What about rights where there’s no will – an intestate estate?

Brian: The law dictates this quite rigidly. If there are no children, the surviving spouse takes all. If there are children, the surviving spouse takes two-thirds and the children divide one-third between them.

For wills and intestacies there are exceptions to these rules – one spouse can contract out of the rights, for example, on divorce a mutual waiver is usually signed. Or if one spouse deserts the other they may be disqualified from claiming. And if one spouse kills the other and it’s murder or manslaughter, that disqualifies the killer spouse.

The Succession Act 1965 can be found at www.irishstatutebook.ie Go to Statutes, 1965 and find the Act. It’s easy to follow and the sections quoted are very relevant if you have an interest in the topic.

 

The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

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