How to Contest a Will in Ireland

Updated April 17, 2017

The passing of a relative or loved one is always emotionally difficult. However, settling their wills can be even more complicated, both emotionally and legally. Challenging a will overseas just adds to the emotional difficulty and the stress. Fortunately, Ireland has laws on the books that make the legal obligations surrounding the last wishes of its citizens very clear, and the process of appealing a will very simple and direct. It may be emotionally difficult, but wills can be settled fairly.

Prove that you have a right to contest the will. In Ireland, the ability to contest is limited almost exclusively to direct family members of the deceased, spouses or children. Challenges to the will from any other party are not allowed by law. Assemble documents such as wedding certificates and birth certificates to demonstrate you are directly related to the deceased, or the court will not allow your challenge.

For spouses, ensure that the Irish courts know you were married to the deceased. Under Irish law, the spouse of the deceased has a right to one-third of the estate automatically. The spouse does not need to petition the court or perform any other legal activity if there is record of the marriage in the Irish system. It will be granted to you automatically. However, you will need to collect your portion of the estate within six years of the date of death or any legal claim to the will can be refused by the courts.

For children, demonstrate that you are the child of the deceased. The process of appeals for children is much more difficult. You will be required to act quickly; children are given only six months from the date of death to file a claim. The child must show to the courts that the deceased has failed to properly support the child either in the will or during the deceased's lifetime and is therefore entitled to a share of the will. This share is determined by the courts.


Move immediately to take legal action if you wish to contest a will. Hire a lawyer with international experience; laws are very different from country to country.

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About the Author

Dan Seitz has been writing professionally since 2008. He has been published on,,,,, and He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater and is currently earning his Master of Arts in film at Emerson College.