A widow made a Will leaving a house and bank accounts to the eldest son and nothing to the younger son. The younger son, who was effectively disinherited, took proceedings on the basis that his mother had failed in her moral obligation to him to make just and prudent provision for him and applied to Court to have the will set aside.
Brenda was a difficult person. She was hard to please. She was however delighted to have two sons, Albert and Paul. Brenda had a difficult life and lost her husband early on leaving her to raise Albert and Paul on her own. Albert was the eldest son and the favourite. He knew how to please his mum. He grew up, obtained a good education, and worked in the payroll section of the public service. Albert married and bought his own home. Paul was a rebel. Paul did his own thing and was very often at odds with his mother Brenda. Brenda didn’t understand Paul’s nature and couldn’t control him. Paul dropped out of education early with psychiatric and learning difficulties. He ended up as a musician, with little money and no permanent home.
As time went on Albert remained in close contact and looked after his mum Brenda. Paul grew up and moved out and didn’t look back. He had a difficult relationship with his mum.
Brenda passed away leaving a house and some savings. Both boys were then in their mid- forties. Under her Will Albert was appointed executor. The house and all money was left to Albert. Nothing was left to Paul.
The law is that no child has an automatic right to inherit a set amount from their parents. However, Section 117 of the Succession Act provides that a child, including an adult child, of a deceased parent who has made a will can apply to court and claim that the parent failed in his or her “moral duty to make proper provision for the child” in accordance with the parent’s means.
Albert had a good education and had a steady pensionable job. Paul had not finished second level education and at best had intermittent income from musical gigs.
Paul started court proceedings to overturn the will. His strongest point was under S117 of the Succession Act 1964 that his mum, Brenda had failed in her moral duty to him to make proper provision for him in accordance with her means.
The court heard the evidence of Albert and Paul as to how they had gotten on with their mum and how they had fared in life. Albert as always came across better. Paul was argumentative and difficult. Just before the court broke for lunch the judge advised that he was likely to overturn the Will in favor of Paul. He advised both parties to go outside and settle the matter. Over lunch the matter was settled with Paul obtaining €150,000 from the estate. The judge was happy that settlement was reached by agreement and asked the brothers to shake hands on the deal. However the court proceedings had soured the already bad relationship between the two brothers. It was the best that could be done in the circumstances. Brenda could have acknowledged her younger son Paul in her will and left him something, potentially avoiding a costly court case and the further deterioration of relations between the two brothers.
If this story affected you or you have a similar concern please contact us.
Please note for privacy and GDPR reasons names and circumstances have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals involved.