Cut­lery for 3 daugh­ters, €3.8m as­sets for 3 sons

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Gor­don Dee­gan

A mother be­queathed in her will her china, delph, and cut­lery to her three daugh­ters along with €5,000 each — and the re­main­ing €3.8m of as­sets in her es­tate amongst her three sons.

Now, her el­dest son, a 53-year-old mar­ried father of two, has suc­cess­fully chal­lenged the will in the High Court af­ter he re­ceived only a tiny frac­tion of the €3.8m es­tate.

In the will, the el­dest son, who works as a hack­ney driver af­ter be­ing forced out of the fam­ily farm busi­ness in 2007, re­ceived only a 3.5-acre strip of land val­ued at €42,000 in 2013 when his mother died — to­day it has a value of €100,000. In con­trast, his brother, who is ex­ecu­tor of the es­tate and per­sonal rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the mother, re­ceived gifts from the es­tate to the value of €3m in 2013 — with the 199 acres of land be­queathed to him val­ued at €3.55m to­day.

Now, as a re­sult of a High Court judg­ment de­liv­ered af­ter a six-day hear­ing be­tween the two sides, Mr Jus­tice De­nis McDon­ald has di­rected the el­dest son to re­ceive around 90 acres of lands to the value of around €1.27m.

These were lands promised by the mother to her el­dest son in 1997 be­fore their fall­ing out and be­fore she re­voked her orig­i­nal will.

At the end of a 30,000-word judge­ment in K v K, Mr Jus­tice McDon­ald found that the mother “did fail in her moral duty to make proper pro­vi­sion for the plain­tiff in her last will”. The judge said the mother “does not ap­pear to have con­sid­ered that she should make any sig­nif­i­cant pro­vi­sion for her daugh­ters in her will”.

The judge said the el­dest son’s an­nual in­come from his hack­ney driver busi­ness at the death of his mother in 2013 was €16,000 af­ter tax and he had sav­ings of €3,000.

The father in the fam­ily had died in 1996, with all as­sets trans­fer­ring to his wife.

In a 1997 will, the mother left a sub­stan­tial part of the farm to the plain­tiff, her el­dest son. How­ever, in 2003, she made a new will. Un­der that 2003 will, the area of land which she pro­posed to give to the el­dest son was sub­stan­tially re­duced.

The judge found that the plain­tiff’s con­tri­bu­tion to the farm up to his father’s death was sig­nif­i­cantly more ex­ten­sive than that of his broth­ers.

In his judg­ment, Mr Jus­tice McDon­ald said he be­lieves the mother’s ‘dra­matic change of heart” in re­vok­ing the 1997 will seems likely to have been the mother’s un­hap­pi­ness at the in­volve­ment of the el­dest son’s in-laws in a prop­erty dis­pute against her, which took place in the courts in 2001/02.

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