A Will is a legal document which sets out your wishes for everything you had possessed after your death. To make a Will, you must be over 18 years of age and legally capable of understanding what a Will is and what assets you own.
Formalities for making a Will
There are rules involved in making a Will and you should follow each step closely so the Will is legal. These include the Will must be in writing and be signed by you in the presence of two witnesses who also sign your Will.
Should You Make A Will?
Everyone should have a Will, which should clearly state how your assets are to be distributed so to avoid any possible family disputes, costly court proceedings and to minimise the amount of tax the government acquires. When you have a child with special needs then there is a greater risk of your child’s future being negatively impacted without the right Will and Trust in place.
What happens if you don’t make a Will?
If you don’t make a Will, the laws of intestacy (Succession Act 1965) will apply. These are the rules which determine the order in which your assets are distributed between your family, without considering their circumstances and what you may wish to happen. Your child with additional needs life would be immediately impacted and several issues will arise that will have a negative impact. We don’t want to list the negative areas in this article as it would keep you awake at night. Suffice to say even if you believe you have very little assets, you need to make a Will and when you have a child with additional needs you need to open up a Special Needs Trust.
After the age of 16 if your child receives means-tested payments such as Disability Allowance or Medical Card then even a small amount of money in their name could potentially reduce or stop their access to entitlements. Support packages funded by the HSE or Service Providers may be cut, leading to any inheritance funds being used to pay for services until that money runs out. This scenario, as you can imagine, could turn your child’s world upside down; impacting everything from vital care and education through to accommodation, transport and social activities.
Another reason could be that your child may not have sufficient financial capacity to manage an inheritance. The emotional distress of losing a parent will likely compound this, making it particularly hard to deal with their newfound prosperity, leaving them susceptible to financial abuse from others who wish to take advantage. This can result in the need for an application to the Court to be appointed to manage their inheritance – and the Court may make decisions that don’t reflect your wishes.