Succession relates to what happens to a person’s property when they die. The rules are set out in the Succession Act 1965. The property and the things a person leaves when they die could range for example from a house to a car and is referred to as the ‘estate’ of the deceased.

Some people die and have made a will. The Citizens Information website gives a detailed description of what a will is, how to create one and what happens if a person does not have a will (is intestate).

FLAC also publishes an information document on Wills and Intestacy. Intestacy means dying without a will.

For information on how an estate is processed following a death the website has a comprehensive probate section.

Following is a brief outline of some of the key issues around Succession

Spouses, Civil Partners and Children

How much of an estate goes to parties such as spouses, civil partners and children and what claims these different parties can make depends on a number of factors.

In the case of a married couple or civil partners, the surviving spouse /civil partner is entitled to a fixed share of the estate called a ‘Legal Right Share.”

Where there is a will the legal right share is half of the estate where there are no children and one- third of the estate if there are children.

Where a person dies without a will there are rules as to what the spouse/civil partner are entitled to from the estate. If there are no children, the spouse/civil partner will take the whole estate, but only two-thirds if there are children.


A parent does not have to leave anything to a child in their will. However, if a parent dies without a will the Court will distribute one-third of the estate among the children, if the other parent to whom the deceased is married or in a civil partnership is still alive.  If the other parent is also dead, the entire estate will be distributed among the children.

If there is a will but a child is not mentioned in the will, they may wish to claim a share of the estate and the Court will then consider if it is just to grant a gift to the child and the value of that gift.

Separated Spouses and Civil Partners

The fact that the parties may have lived apart for many years does not of itself affect their succession entitlement.

Parties can voluntarily give up their succession rights in a separation agreement meaning that they are not entitled to the legal right share.

 Succession rights on Divorce

When a decree of divorce is granted, succession rights no longer apply. However, when a former spouse/civil partner dies and the surviving former spouse/civil partner has not remarried or entered into a new civil partnership, he or she can make an application to court seeking a share of the estate of their former spouse/civil partner. This application can only be made if no orders blocking formers spouses from doing so have been made at the divorce hearing.


In 2010 legislation was introduced that gives succession rights for people who are not married or civil partners, but who are living together as a couple. In order to be able to make a claim on an estate, a qualified cohabitant must:

  • have been in a relationship of cohabitation with the other adult;
  • and immediately before the time the relationship ended, have lived with the other adult for a period of two years or more, where there are dependent children,
  • Or five years or more where there are no children.
  • a claim must be commenced within six months of the date of the grant of probate


The Courts Service

  • Address: The Courts Service, 15 – 24 Phoenix Street North, Smithfield, Dublin 7
  • Tel: 01 888 6000
  • Website:
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