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Two sisters are fighting for their sister's will after she left €283k estate to her best friend

The dispute centres on the will of the late Celine Murphy from Straffan.

Image: Shutterstock/Daisy Daisy

THE HIGH COURT has refused to put a temporary stay on the distribution of the disputed will of a woman who drew it up a week before she died.

The dispute centres around the will of the late Celine Murphy (50), who died of cancer on 15 March, 2011. She left her estate, valued at around €283,000, to her best friend Mary Butler, from Straffan in Co Kildare.

Murphy’s sister Majella Rippington, her husband Shaun, and Murphy’s other sister Edel Banahan, disputed the will and brought an action before the High Court seeking to have the will declared invalid.

They claim Celine signed the will in circumstances of duress and undue influence.

Mary Butler and Tridentine Bishop Michael Cox, who was named as executor, denied the claims, saying Murphy was of sound mind. They counter-claimed seeking to have the will declared valid.

Last year the High Court rejected the family’s claim and declared the will to be valid. The judgment is under appeal.

Yesterday, the matter returned before the High Court when Rippington asked Justice Caroline Costello for a stay on the High Court judgment pending the outcome of the appeal.

Majella Rippington, who represented herself, said that an application has been made for the full grant of the late woman’s estate.

She wanted the court to make an order temporarily halting that process that until the appeal has been determined on the basis she was concerned about the dissipation of the estate’s assets.

Lawyers for the respondents opposed the application and argued there was nothing unusual in what was being done in respect of the estate.

Justice Costello refused the application on grounds including that the High Court had previously refused to grant a stay on its judgement.

‘Close and valued friend’

The court was effectively being asked to alter the order of another judge of the High Court which is something it simply cannot do, the judge said.

In his 2015 judgment, Justice Seamus Noonan found the late Ms Murphy had the requisite capacity when she made the will leaving her estate, and declared the will valid.

The judge said he was satisfied Butler was “a close and valued friend” of Murphy.

It would be idle to speculate the nature of the relationship between Murphy and members of her family.

But, the judge said,

suffice it to say there is nothing irrational about the contents of the will of the deceased.

There was also evidence from Murphy’s other friends and from Butler’s daughter Johanna, who Murphy asked to witness the will, along with Bishop Cox, in the Butler family home.

The judge said because of the outrageous and unsubstantiated allegations made against the defendants in this case, the Rippington/Banahan side should pay all the legal costs and the Murphy estate should not be burdened with those costs. He put a stay on his costs pending appeal but not on any other order.

Rippington appealed the decision and Court of Appeal is due to hear the case in October 2017.

Comments are closed because legal proceedings are ongoing.

Read: If you’re fighting over a €250k house, you could lose it all in legal fees >

Read: ‘My sister is laughing all the way to the bank, we will never speak again’: Families at war over wills >

About the author:

Ray Managh

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