A Limerick-born entrepreneur has joined with a solicitors' firm to launch Ireland's first online will register.
Ireland becomes the final country in the EU to have a digital will registry, expected to become an essential part of the legal service.
While the Irish Will Register will provide one online source to find wills, details of the document are never disclosed and the register does not need to see a copy.
Michael Fraher is director of Panther Environmental Solutions, which is based in Carlow where he now lives.
“I spotted that Ireland was the only country in Europe that did not have an online will register,” said Mr Fraher.
He approached Simon McElwee and Joe Farrell from Farrell McElwee Solicitors, also based in Carlow, and they immediately saw the merit and usefulness of the register.
“We expect will registration to become an essential part of the legal service for anybody making a will,” said Mr Fraher.
The use of such a register in other European countries has reduced the number of disputes and in cases where there is a disagreement, it has facilitated a more speedy resolution.
It is not a legal requirement to register the location or existence of a will in Ireland but the benefits of having a register are many.
“I get emails almost every day of the week asking do I know of the whereabouts of a will. Every solicitor does,” said Mr Farrell.
He said the email might have gone to a large number of practices in the area.
“We have to reply because we will be asking the same question for our clients regularly.”
Mr Farrell said he expects that solicitors helping to draw up a will, will offer to register it on the website www.thewillregister.ie, a process that costs €40.
The register records the existence of the will and the name of the solicitor, financial institution or trustee who holds the original copy of the document.
Confidential information about the will is not part of the registration process. Details of the will are never disclosed and the will register does not need to see a copy.
Existing wills can be added to the register by an individual or solicitor at any time.
However, a solicitor would have to seek permission from a testator before registering any existing wills.
Once registered a certificate of registration is issued that can be stored with other important documents.
If a person wants to change their will the existence of a prior will can be easily verified.
“Over my years as a solicitor, I have received regular calls from distressed relatives searching for the location of a will. The Irish Will Register is the ideal solution,” said Mr McElwee.
“The new service will make the process of finding the location of a loved one's will quick and straightforward for family members. It saves time, money and added distress at a difficult time.”