Saturday 23 September 2017

Can daughter born outside wedlock get share of late dad's house?

Jim Hegarty
Jim Hegarty

Jim Hegarty

My little girl's dad died without making a will. His house went straight to his wife as they jointly owned it. Is our daughter entitled to one-third of his house? I never married my daughter's dad. He was married to someone else when I fell pregnant with his child, and they jointly had a mortgage/house. Jennifer, Naas, Co Kildare

Your question highlights the importance of making a will and inheritance planning. The simple answer to your question, however, is that if a property is jointly owned, then on death it automatically passes to the remaining owner.

No other person would have a claim on the property. The only exception to this would be if the tenancy had been severed prior to the person's death, whether by deed or by court order. You would need to have this investigated by a solicitor specialising in family law.

I recently became self-employed after working as a full-time employee for many years. I no longer have a pension since I left my full-time job. How would I go about setting up one as a self-employed individual and what options do I have?

Carmel, Athlone, Co Westmeath

It's important that you contact the administrators of your scheme and request your leaving service options. You should also seek independent advice on your options.

As a self-employed individual, you can use a Personal Pension Plan (PPP) or a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) to save for your retirement and avail of the tax reliefs that are currently available under these contracts.

The maximum amount of annual contributions on which tax relief can be obtained by an individual is a percentage of the individual's relevant earnings for that year. This can range from 15pc to 40pc depending on the age of the individual.

Many self-employed people make single premium contributions at the same time as making their tax returns (that is, in October or November). However, we would recommend making regular payments to your fund as this means you can benefit from something known as "euro cost averaging". Market timing (buying when the market is low and selling when it is high) is notoriously difficult - mis-timing your move by just a day can mean taking some unnecessary losses or missing out on substantial gains.

As first-time buyers, should we wait until we see a house we like or should we apply for mortgage approval first?

JJ & Mary, Lusk, Co Dublin

Getting a pre-approved mortgage is always a smart step before starting your home search. Buying a home can be a daunting task but by taking this measure, you are making the process that much easier. Furthermore, some sellers won't even look at buyers that don't have pre-approval.

When getting pre-approved, you are having a bank investigate your credit history so that your mortgage application can be determined. These pre-approvals have a life-span, but it helps prove your home-buying ability. This shows sellers how serious you are when putting an offer on a home.

Getting pre-approved is not fast. You must complete a mortgage application with the appropriate documents related to your financial history. This allows the bank to determine how much it is willing to lend you. With this confirmation, you can modify your home search at that price point or lower.

Jim Hegarty is chairman of Hegarty Financial Management

Email your questions to lmcbride@independent.ie or write to 'Your Questions, The Sunday Independent Business Section, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1'.

While we will endeavour to place your questions with the most appropriate expert to answer your query, this column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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