Tipperary solicitor talks New Year's resolutions

John M. Lynch

Reporter:

John M. Lynch

New Year's resolutions

It’s that time of the year again when we are all making some ill-fated New Year’s resolutions. Here are some resolutions which you should certainly keep. They will undoubtedly allow you to relax, start the year  on a practical note and could spare a lot of stress should an unexpected event rear its head in 2017. 

Make a will

Now is always the best time to make a will. A will is undoubtedly one of the most important documents you will have to make decisions on.  It most certainly should not be left until it is too late. The landscape for making a will has changed significantly over the years. People are living longer; therefore wills now have a broader reach than they did before. Making a will is not about becoming older but it something that should be done. Therefore, people should no longer dread making their will but instead look at it as planning for the future. 

It is important to remember that a will can be altered at any time before you die. A will may also be revoked and a new one made. A marriage acts to void any previous will. In the case of multiple wills, it is advisable to destroy a will if you have made a new one to avoid conflict or confusion. 

There is no central registry in Ireland to check to see if a will exists or if a will is the most recent will made. It is best practice to keep a copy of your most recent will and also to let others know the solicitor’s office in which your will was made. 

A will can also have some more immediate practical benefits upon death. A will can provide for certain special wishes. Some wills will provide how one wishes their funeral to be carried out including burial in a certain place. 

Making your will is usually relatively simple. The hardest thing about making your will is taking the first steps in arranging an appointment with your solicitor. 

Talk it out!

Unfortunately, Christmas can often highlight and heighten tensions in families. In family law matters, alternative dispute resolution can provide a practical and suitable arrangement for parties involved in a family law dispute. Instead of confrontation and arguments back and forth, mediation with a suitable mediator can help ease a relationship breakup between parties in order to arrive at an agreeable arrangement. 

The success of mediation is rooted in its primary objective, which is to try and facilitate discussion which is the hardest thing to do in a conflict situation. Mediation is typically a speedy process, allowing parties to reconcile or make an agreement a little bit faster than normal. It is at this point that the healing process may begin for all parties involved. Arrangements made as a result of mediation are often the most suitable long term. This is owing to the fact that the parties themselves are present and can contribute in order to mould a personalised agreement between each other.

Should I put a ring on it? 

Whilst cohabiting couples may consider themselves a family, the reality in law is somewhat different. 

Until relatively recently, there was absolutely no legal protection for the thousands of couples living together outside of marriage. The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 was passed into law to deal with this social situation. A cohabitant, for the purposes of this act, is one of two adults who live together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship. 

It is important to understand that there are no automatic rights if you are a qualified cohabitant. Whilst there is a redress scheme, cohabiting couples are not in a formalised relationship. This can become hugely problematic in the event of a break up situation or if an inevitable life situation occurs. 

This is where cohabitation agreements come into place. The redress scheme allows qualified cohabitants to apply for such orders as maintenance order, property adjustment orders, pension adjustment orders and so on in the event of a relationship breakdown and a cohabitant may also apply for provision to be made out of the estate of a deceased cohabitant upon the death of a partner. Therefore, cohabitants are often limited to a mere right to apply for redress and the class of cohabitants who are awarded relief is quite restricted (requirement of financial dependency). 

In order to avail of this redress scheme, the applicant must satisfy the court that they were financially dependent on the other cohabitant and that such financial dependence arises from the relationship or relationship breakdown. 

A good option for cohabiting couples is to make their own arrangement. Such arrangements can provide for financial matters during the relationship or in the event of a relationship breakdown or death. Making an independent arrangement avoids cohabitees becoming subject to the redress scheme with strict limitations or potentially leaving a partner un-provided for in the event of death. 

Deal with debt

For people struggling with debt, it can eventually become impossible to deal with. This is understandable as being in debt can lead to high levels of stress. 

A lot of work has been done in the area of debt in Ireland. There is funding available through different schemes and under the new regime there is an appeal mechanism available through the Circuit Court. 

The law on bankruptcy has been transformed with bankruptcy now only lasting for a period of one year. One of the schemes set up in this area is run through the Money Advice and Budgeting Service with the Legal Aid Board supplying an external panel of solicitors. Assistance is essentially provided to those in debt by solicitors, Personal insolvency practitioners and accountants. This assistance is provided without cost to the insolvent borrower, under a "voucher" system. With the new schemes and structures that are now in place, dealing with debt does not have to be impossible. 

If you think that you might qualify for our assistance under the scheme you should contact the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). They will process your application and provide you with a voucher to come and speak with a member of our debt management team.

Contact us

The material contained in this article is provided for general information purposes only and does not amount to legal or other professional advice. While every care has been taken in the preparation of the information, we advise you to seek specific advice from us about any legal decision or course of action. Call us on 052-6124344 for more information.