Paul worked as an electrician for Dublin City Council for his entire life. He lived at home with his mother and never married. When he died, on his own, he left a will in which he left his house to his favourite nephew and the money in his bank accounts to be divided amongst his three surviving brothers.
Paul’s brother Brian was appointed executor of the Will. Stephen the nephew asked and was let move into the house. He started renovating and modernising the house.
Probate was applied for. The Revenue were informed of the beneficiaries and of the tax payable by the nephew and the brothers. A court order called a Grant of Probate issued to allow Brian as executor to obtain the monies from the banks and officially transfer the house to Stephen, the favourite nephew.
Then the unexpected happened. Five months after the court order issued a letter was received from a Scottish firm of solicitors stating that they acted for Simone who, they stated, was the biological daughter of the deceased, Paul. They asked for a copy of the Will and Grant of Probate. A subsequent letter arrived from an Irish firm of solicitors stating that as Simone was Paul’s only child and that she was entitled to all his estate.
Brian was flabbergasted! Upon enquiry there was some knowledge within the family that Paul had visited relatives in Scotland and had met a girl at a dance and had a brief affair with her. Paul also used to send money and gifts to this lady. But no child had ever been acknowledged.
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 “moral duty to make proper provision for the child” in accordance with the parent’s means. An application must be made to the court within 6 months from the date of the issue of the Grant of Probate.
Court proceedings were issued by Simone 5 months after the Grant of Probate issued.
Brian could not accept that the Will made by his brother Paul could be torn up and rewritten. The court proceedings got nasty. Brian insisted that Simone undergo a DNA test. Simone underwent the DNA test and it proved that she was Paul’s daughter. Simone had to set out for the court how she had got on in life and her current economic situation. It turned out Simone had not gone to university but had worked with the same large bank since leaving secondary school. She had a young family and was living in rented accommodation.
Brian was advised that Simone, as the only child of Paul, was likely to get at lease 80% of the Estate from the court. Coming up to the hearing of the case negotiations were entered into between the parties. It was agreed that Simone would get 60% of the estate and the remaining 40% of the Estate would be divided amongst the three brothers of the deceased and the nephew equally. The nephew was repaid the renovation monies for the house. The house was put up for sale. The Revenue were informed of the new beneficaries. The nephew and his family received 10% of the value of the Estate. Nobody was very happy, but it was the best that could be done in the circumstances. If Paul had acknowledged his daughter in his Will it could have averted a costly court case for his brothers and nephew.
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Please note for privacy and GDPR reasons names and circumstances have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals involved.