Irish inheritance law

The question of inheritance rights in Ireland is one that has been debated at length. Inheritance rights in the country have been criticised as they do not recognise live-in partners or same-sex couples. Should no will exist in the instance of the death of a same-sex or unmarried partner, inheritance will not go the partner of the deceased person.

Rights Where a Will Exists

If a person dies who has made a will, the will is passed onto a trusted person, either an executor who will be a lawyer or an administrator who may be a lawyer or the next of kin. There are certain restrictions to a will in Ireland. The deceased may not completely disinherit a spouse as a spouse is entitled to one-third of property if there are children and half if there are not. While it is not obligatory to leave children anything, children have a right to appeal for what they feel is their fair share of property.

No Will

If there is no legal will, a person is said to have died intestate. When this happens, there is legal division of property which is set out in the Irish Statute Book. If there is a spouse but no children, the spouse receives the whole of the deceased's estate. If there is a spouse and children, the spouse receives two-thirds of the inheritance, and the children receive one-third to be divided between them. If there is no spouse, the estate is divided between the children. If there is no spouse and no children, the property goes to the deceased's parents, if living, or to the brother and sisters if the parents are also dead.

Division of Property

Where there is a will made, the executor of the will needs to take out a probate (the process by which property is retitled). If there is no will or if an executor has not been appointed by the deceased, somebody must apply to made an administrator. This may be a spouse, a child, a sibling, a parent or a more distant relative.

The administrator or the executor must divide property and pay the deceased's debts and funeral costs.


All inheritance that exceeds a person's tax-free amount is Ireland is liable for taxes. There are three tax-free thresholds that affect the amount a person is entitled to. In the case of the death of a child, stepchild or parent, the tax-free amount allowed is 414,799 euros. In the case of an inheritance where the inheritor is a sibling, nephew or niece, grandchild or great grandchild, the allowance is 41,481 euros. All other inheritors have a tax-free amount of 20,740 euros.


The child of an unmarried father may have to prove paternity in order to be entitled to a share of the inheritance. Annulled marriages are also not recognised legally, so a partner of an annulled marriage may seek a legal share of property as a spouse.

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About the Author

Edie Grace has been writing and editing since 2008. Her work has been published in medical magazines and aired on radio. She has written about skin conditions, cardiovascular health and surgery. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and music and a Master of Arts in journalism.

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