Today we’re looking at how Irish inheritance laws work and proposed changes to the current law.

When you’re in the throes of excitement that come with building a new life in the country of your dreams, you can hardly be blamed for putting inheritance matters to the back of your mind. To avoid any morbid thoughts, we recommend thinking of it this way – by taking just a few important steps, you can ensure that the best interests of those you love the most are protected – and then you can crack on with enjoying your new life as much as possible. To help you understand how things operate in Ireland, today we’re running you through Irish inheritance law and reporting on how proposed reforms could affect the current situation.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to make a will in Ireland relating to your Irish assets.

Irish inheritance rules

We can’t stress enough how important it is to make a will in Ireland relating to your Irish assets. Without this, under Irish Law (The Succession Act 1965), you will be considered to have died intestate. This means that the law will determine who will inherit your assets, rather than you. Under this law, if there is no will, your assets will be automatically divvied up as follows:

• If you are married with no children, your entire state will automatically be granted to your spouse.

• If you are married with children, your spouse will inherit two thirds of the estate and the remaining third will be divided equally between your children.

• If you are single and have no children your assets will go to your parents if they are still around. They will share the estate equally between them. If you have no parents, your estate will be divided equally between your brothers and sisters. If any of your brothers or sisters have died, their share will be passed on to their children and divided equally between them.

• If you are single and you have children, your estate will be divided up equally amongst them. If one of your children has passed away, their share of your assets will automatically go to any children that they may have had.

• If you have no family members the state will attempt to determine your ‘next of kin’ – usually this will be your closest blood relative.


Don’t forget to make a will relating to your Irish assets.


Even if this is exactly how you would like your estate to be divided, to avoid any instances of family members falling out over their entitlements, it pays to have a will in place, with your name on, that expressly states your wishes.

There are elements of the Succession Act that have been challenged recently particularly in relation to parents having a ‘moral duty’ to leave everything to their children. In fact just this week, changes have been proposed by the Law Reform Commission in review of Section 117 of the 1965 Succession Act. The Commission suggests eradicating this ‘moral duty’, and instead changing the wording of the Act to state that a parent has a duty to make ‘proper provision’ for a child.

If the law is changed in accordance with this proposal, children who are unhappy with how they are provided for will still be able to challenge the decision in court, but it will be far more difficult for them to prove that they have not been sufficiently provided for.

The commission’s proposal signals an end to the assumption that children are entitled to an inheritance.

The commission’s proposal signals an end to the assumption that children are entitled to an inheritance. The proposal has been suggested to reflect the fact that people are having fewer children and parents are living longer, and therefore need to fund their own later life and healthcare requirements.

The new recommendations provide three exceptions to the new rule. Parents will continue to have a moral duty to provide for them:

• Where the child has a particular financial need arising from their health or from their decision-making capacity

• Where the estate contains an item of particular sentimental value to the adult child

• Where the adult child has provided care and support for the deceased.

Currently, any child who believes that their parent failed in their ‘moral duty’ to provide for them can apply to the courts for an increased proportion of the estate. The suggested changes wouldn’t remove this right to appeal; it would instead be designed to reduce the number of inauthentic claims made.

The Commission have also recommended that children be allowed to make a claim under section 117 in instances where parents die without leaving a will. Under the current law this is not possible. Instead, their estate is automatically distributed as outlined above.

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