When someone dies without having made a Will, they are said to have died “intestate”. This can be a confusing and unsettling time for the people they leave behind, especially when we take into account the evolving definition of what constitutes a family in 21st century Ireland.

It is important to know your rights when a family member dies without having made a Will. If you feel aggrieved that you have not been provided for by a family member because they died intestate, you should seek legal advice as quickly as possible

For example, if you are unmarried and have a partner and children, and you die without having made a Will, under the laws of intestacy, your children will be your next of kin and not your partner – with whom you may have been cohabiting for many years. However, your partner would have rights under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, but not without court proceedings.

It is not always the surviving family who is affected by someone dying intestate. For example, a neighbour may have been promised property in a Will – typically for work he has done, often over many years – only to find that he has been left without any benefit because the party who promised him died intestate. Again, there is legal path that can be taken to remedy this, and you should seek advice as soon as possible.

In more general cases, parties are entitled to a percentage of an inheritance when someone dies intestate and these are strictly governed by the Succession Act 1965. All information should be given to your solicitor in the event of a party dying intestate to allow them to advise you about who gets what share of the Estate.

When a party dies intestate it is necessary to enter their Estate into an insurance bond prior to lodging papers with the Probate Office and again we can offer advice about how this process works.