Archive for April, 2012

Pets and Wills

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

A will is not about death. It is about life after death.

Sometimes, our closest friends are our pets. We usually expect to outlive them but what if we go first?

  • Who is going to look after my dog?
  • Who is going to provide for my horse?
  • Can I leave my savings to my cat?

The answer to these questions lies in your will.

The will can be designed especially to help, protect and maintain not just a pet or an animal who survives you but also, in a charitable way, the causes of animals. By leaving a legacy to a charity set up to protect animals you have an efficient tax free method of putting your money to use. Examples are:

  • the Dublin Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals,
  • The Donkey Sanctuary,
  • the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind,
  • the Irish Wildlife Trust,
  • the Irish Blue Cross, or
  • the Irish Equine Centre.

On the other hand, providing for specific animals requires a bit more care. In that case, the will must contain a trust clause. Because a pet can’t open a bank account trustees must be appointed to to do it for them. There should be 2 trustees and, because one assumes the pet to live in Ireland, they should also live in the same jurisdiction. The animal is the object of the trust and this must be clearly stated. The powers of the trustees must also be set out, eg. the power to invest or move money. The source of funds should be identified and the ability to appoint new trustees ought to be included. Some animals live extremely long lives and the trust may have to be able to last. There are also tax considerations and this will depend on the amount of money left in the trust. The management of a trust will involve expense and this will have to be taken into account.

Then, the question is: What happens after the pet dies?

You can see that the exercise can be complicated. A visit to your solicitor is, therefore, recommended

Management companies – don’t you hate them?

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

These are tough times for those of us who jumped on the roller coaster and went for the ride. When the banks were throwing it around we went mad on investments. We bought all kinds: cars, boats, giant flat screens, foreign property… but most of all, we bought apartments. The monthly rent is now bringing in less than the mortgage repayment and the value has slipped into negative equity. Even if we wanted to sell we can’t because nobody out there would dream of throwing good money at an apartment in these times.

Then, to add further misery to an already miserable situation we have to contend with management matters. The day the deal was struck the solicitor went on a bit about management companies but there was so much else to think about that it didn’t sink in. Later when the keys were handed over he said some more about keeping an eye on management. Again, it didn’t register because all thoughts were on the tenants and bringing in the rent. Now, it’s not just about the flat or the rent but the common areas; the parking problems; the lift that doesn’t work; the roof that is letting in water after the big freeze in January. Who is looking after the mess?

The problem is made all the worse by the developer, who held on to a clatter of apartments for himself. They are all empty and he has gone bust. The common areas have not been signed over to the management company which has, itself, been struck off the register leaving the unit owners with unsaleable assets. Because the occupiers of the apartments are all tenants there are no owner occupiers to get together to form a committee or something to keep the place in one piece. The investors have all run for cover and no one seems to want to take responsibility.

So, aswell as losing money on a monthly basis the chances of redeeming anything appear forlorn. Despite all this, the time to act is now. Begin by picking up that phone and fixing an appointment to see your solicitor.

Hard times. We can help

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

If you are thinking of buying a house and this is your first time maybe we can sort you out. We are offering a special recession rate of €990 + vat and outlay regardless of the price. We believe this is competitive and attractive. Click on the quote tab on the website and we will do the rest. Ethna and Justin are on standby.

33,000 people in Ireland suffer from dementia

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

The Law Reform Commission in its 2005 consultation paper entitled vulnerable adults and the law : capacity considered existing legal mechanisms to address loss of capacity. Chief among these is the EPA.

The paper addresses people with limited decision making ability and refers to them as vulnerable adults. They can be categorised:

  • intellectual disability
  • dementia
  • mental illness
  • acquired brain injury
  • inability to communicate decisions

The one I wish to address is dementia. It is estimated that 33,000 people in Ireland suffer from dementia, most of whom have Alzheimers Disease (about 60%). Persons with Parkinson’s Disease and Huntingdon’s Disease may develop dementia late on in the disease. The incidence obviously increases with age. The National Council of Ageing and Older People has projected that by 2021 the percentage of older males will have risen from 10% to 14%, while the percentage of older females will have risen from 12.5% to 16.5%. As a result the number of adults with dementia will also increase.

The Powers of Attorney Act 1996 introduced the concept in Ireland of the epa. Before the onset of illness all adults in the country have the opportunity to manage their affairs by appointing attorneys but very few do. When dementia happens, they can no longer make decisions for themselves. Those that care may apply to the High Court for the patients to be admitted as Wards of Court. This course of action is expensive, time consuming, distressing to a family and altogether unnecessary.

The message has to go out to people showing early signs of the disease; doctors who recognise it in their patients and family members who can spot the telltale incidents of forgetfulness. Appoint your attorneys now.


So you want to make a living will?

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

In Ireland a will speaks from death so a “living will” is a bit of an oxymoron. Instead we prefer to call this concept an advance directive. The best way we have of expressing this solution is to make *an enduring power of attorney*, or EPA for short. An EPA is a legal instrument signed by a donor appointing an attorney or attornies to conduct the business of the donor in the event that the donor becomes mentally incapable of looking after his/her affairs. The donor may also direct the attorney to carry out personal care decisions on behalf of the donor.

An EPA is usually made at the same time as a will. An executor and an attorney need not be the same although they generally are. The EPA is held by the solicitor with the will but may never be needed. A doctor’s certificate is required at the outset and 2 relatives of the donor must be notified. To become effective the EPA has to be registered in the High Court. The certificate of registration then becomes the legal instrument recognised by others to give control of the donor’s assets to the attorney and to enable personal decisions to be made concerning the donor. This can only happen if a doctor agrees that the donor has lost his/her mental faculties.

Of necessity, this two tier process is complex, involving the filing of no fewer than 14 legal documents in Court. In Partners at Law we have developed, along with the Law Society of Ireland, a sophisticated computer program designed to simplify the experience for our clients. We hope that you will give us an opportunity to show it to you.