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The Succession Act 1965 introduced a curb on a person‘s freedom of testation and gave protection to spouses and children on the death of a husband/wife, mother or father. As a result, certain relationships took precedence over others in the distribution of an estate, e.g. a surviving spouse‘s legal right share to a deceased spouse‘s estate is absolute. Since that legislation was enacted Irish society has changed greatly with a new variety and complexity of family structures. The provisions introduced by the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 are an attempt to keep pace with the changes which have taken place in modern society. As a result of the succession law provisions in the Act of 2010 certain relationships take priority over other competing interests in an estate. Thus, a new hierarchy of claimants to an estate is created. For example, a biological child can make an application which can have the effect of eroding the legal right share of a surviving civil partner but not that of a surviving spouse, their step-parent.
I plan to review the succession law provisions contained in the Act of 1965 and the amendments made to the 1965 Act by the Act of 2010 and analyse and examine which competing interests in an estate will take precedence, the varying degrees of protection afforded to individuals in the newly recognised family structures, the rationale behind these variations and the possible ramifications in the future.
Dennehy, Niamh: An Evaluation of the Succession Law Changes Introduced by the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. Dublin, DIT, May 2011