Ireland out of step with Europe on Wills

Ireland out of step with Europe on Wills

How assured can anyone be that a written will ultimately expresses the intention of the deceased? Wills may be written with legal advice on sheets of paper and stored in various locations, most commonly in solicitors’ offices or storerooms.Following a number of cases involving the contesting of wills, should we look more closely at the process of validating and storage of wills generally? Should we consider a system of independent attestation, such as the notary system used in much of Europe? Could steps be taken to ensure wills are not mislaid, suppressed or overlooked, whether inadvertently or malevolently?A 1966 report of the British Law Reform Commission estimated 100 probate administrations there were revoked each year, the majority following a belated discovery of an uncollated will. Many countries have also realised the importance of the right of beneficiaries to receive the benefit intended for them, and help to ensure such a right by the provision of a centralised register of wills.According to , a website co-financed by the European Commission, all but seven members of the European Union have a register of wills. Five of the outstanding seven have initiated a legislative process to enact a register.

According to a 2010 report of the European Network of Registers of Wills Association (ENRWA), of the remaining two members, Malta is amenable to the creation of a register and already has a system for storage of wills in court vaults – but Ireland is specifically referenced in the report as the sole member lacking the political will to create a Register of Wills.

Not participated
The project coordinator of the “Euro Wills” project Celine Mangin stated that a Department of Justice representative had not participated in their workshop and that she had received a response to the effect there was no plan to create a Register of Wills in Ireland. If all EU members participated in the program, a single will search could be made across the EU for a modest fee.

In fact, Ireland’s aversion to the creation of a register goes back to 1972, when it was the sole member of a group of nine of the Council of Europe, which subsequently comprised the EEC in 1973, that failed to sign the Convention on the Establishment of a Scheme of Registration of Wills, held in Basel, Switzerland, on May 16th, 1972. The Convention is still operational, though its Directorate did not elaborate as to why Ireland had failed to participate – stating, only that there was no written record explaining Ireland’s reasons for not doing so.

Source: Irish times


Shane Dowling is the Principal of Direct Law Solicitors with offices in Skerries and Swords

Posted in Blog, Wills and Probate