If a person dies without writing a will in Ireland, what will happen to his assets in Ireland? What will happen to his Indian properties?

After the death of a person, the properties and assets passes on to his nominee or legal or personal representative. These possessions are transferred to the legal heirs by the representative appointed. The transfer of assets happen only on the basis of law, will or laws of intestacy if there is no will written. These assets are collectively called the deceased person’s estate. The personal representative is the executor of the will and an administrator if no will is written or if the executor doesn’t fulfill the duties.

Bank Accounts, Insurance Policies and Savings

If the account containing the money is only owned by the deceased, the family members cannot get direct access to the money until probate is issued to the personal representative. If the amount is considerably small, the amount may be directly transferred to the representative or nearest family member.

Joint Bank Accounts

In the case of joint accounts in the names of the deceased and the deceased’s civil partner, the money will be transferred to the survivor on presenting the death certificate. If the other person who holds the joint account is not a civil partner of the deceased, the bank will have already made certain decisions at the account opening procedures itself in which the money directly transfers to the survivor.

If the account has more than €50,000 a clearance letter is needed from Revenue in which money could be transferred to the surviving account holder pending investigations about Capital Acquisition Tax (CAT) liability. Spouses and civil partners are exempted from CAT as they inherit the assets from the deceased. Finally if the bank has no certain instructions made, the decision of the deceased will be looked for in his will, statement etc.

Credit Union Accounts

If the credit union account of the deceased have a valid nomination form at the time of opening the account, a maximum of €23,000 goes to the nominee and remaining balance will be distributed according to the will or succession law.

What happens to the joint account in India on the death of an account holder?

In India, if a joint account/ Joint fixed deposit/ Joint Locker holder is deceased, the bank will contact the person appointed by the deceased and other account holders to operate the account. If all the joint account holders go for a surviving clause on the assets, the surviving bank account holder gets the right to operate the account, claim the assets and transfer the same to the legal heirs of the deceased lawfully.

The bank goes to the nominee if no one claimed using survivorship clause. If no nominee is set, the assets automatically go to the legal heirs by law. The claimant have to produce the death certificate of the deceased.

The nominee and survivor are just trustees who are responsible to look after the assets of the deceased and they have to transfer the same to the legal heirs. They are bound to protect and preserve the assets as long as they hold them. Breach of this duty by them is punishable under law.

If the balance amount in the account is below minimum threshold, the money will be released to the legal heirs after they produce death certificate or certificate of indemnity. On the other hand, if the amount is high, court documents like Grant of Probate, Letter of Administration etc. should be produced.

Occupation and personal pensions

The occupation and personal pensions are governed by certain rules which abide by the terms of the pension. The pension of the deceased may cover the spouse, civil partner and children, which could be identified from the scheme administrators. Self employed people could make some arrangements in which the investment of the person changes into the estate after death of the person.

Divorced people or dissolved civil partners can also have a hold on some part of the pension scheme depending on the pension adjustment order which is made during divorce or dissolution.

Legal Right Share

If you made a will and your spouse or partner has never given up their rights to your estate, they they have a right on the estate of yours. The legal share is one half of your estate if you have no children and one third if you have children.

In these cases, your partner will not have to appeal to the court as your executor will give your share when needed. If you leave something as a gift to your partner in your will, the partner can either accept it or insist more on their legal right share. The executor appointed by you is responsible to inform your partner on writing the share or gift. Your spouse or partner should ask for their share within 6 months or within 12 months of taking out of the Grant of Representation.

Legal right share doesn’t apply when;

Your spouse or partner refuse their rights on their share on your property. This could be made up in an agreement in which the spouse or partner give up their rights which could be beneficial for their children or other nominated beneficiaries. Their renunciation may be challenged if it is proved that they agreed to the renunciation unknowingly or by mistake. An independent legal advice can help them understand the situations better.

The partner or spouse cannot have a right on the share if they are found guilty on manslaughter, and lead to attempt to murder of the deceased or convicted of an offence against the deceased.

Divorce, Seperation and Desertion

Seperation agreements usually include a renunciation of both spouses’ or partners’ legal right share. You do not have to provide a legal share if you are divorced or civil partnership is dissolved. If your spouse or partner deserted you for more than 2 years, they cannot have a say in your legal right.

Cohabiting Partners

Partners who live together but not legally married have no right on each other’s assets. Under the redress scheme of cohabiting couple introduced by the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, a share of the deceased cohabitant can be claimed by a qualified cohabitant.

You can pass all your assets to your partner but this is not a hindrance for claiming your legal rights by your divorced partner.

Rights of children under a valid will

If there is a will, children doesn’t have a direct right of inheritance to the parent’s estate. Children born inside or outside marriage and adopted children enjoy same rights on their parent’s assets. Children can go to the court if they feel that they are not being provided with their rights. An application must be made within 6 months of the taking out of a Grant of Representation. The court will then decide whether the parent failed to provide the needs of the child.

The surviving spouse or civil partner will be asked to keep the home instead of the legal share even though the house is more worthy than legal right share. Court may decide that this sum does not have to be paid if it would cause undue hardship.

What happens when there is no will?

If you die without writing a will, assets may be passed on the basis of the law of succession. If the will is invalid or not written properly the property may be passed on law of succession. This may also happen if a successful legal challenge is made to the validity of the will.

The order in which your assets are distributed in these cases is framed in the Succession Act 1965.

If you are survived by;

  • A spouse or partner without children, gets the entire estate
  • A spouse or civil partner and children, gets two thirds of your estate and children gets remaining one third. If children are died, it goes to the grandchildren.
  • Children without spouse or partner, estate is divided equally among the children or grandchildren
  • Parents, but no spouse, civil partners or children, estate is equally divided between your parents or entirely to one parent if other is dead.
  • Brothers and sisters only, assets are shared equally among them. If a brother or sister is deceased, their children takes his/her share.
  • Nieces and nephews only, assets divided equally among survivors
  • Other relatives, assets are divided equally among survivors
  • No relatives, estate goes to the state.

Can you write a will on your Indian properties in Ireland?

It’s better to write a will on properties in your homeland there itself. The laws of succession are different in each countries and as a result a will in Ireland on Indian properties may not be accepted wholly and may cause you many difficulties

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