Wednesday 7 December 2016

High Court dismisses man's challenge brought against the will of his late partner

Published 30/06/2015 | 17:56

The will was executed and witnessed by three family members of the deceased hours before his death
The will was executed and witnessed by three family members of the deceased hours before his death

THE High Court has dismissed a man's challenge brought against the will of his late partner.

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In the first challenge of its type since the introduction of civil partnership, Said Laaser contested a will executed by the late Brian Earls, a former diplomat, hours before his death two years ago.

President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns today ruled the will was properly executed.

The will was executed and witnessed by three family members of the deceased hours before his death at a Dublin Hospital on July 5, 2013, the court heard.

Mr Laaser, who represented himself in court, challenged the execution claiming it was suspicious.

He said the will was signed in his absence and Mr Earls had been so ill at the time he was not able to sign the document, but instead had marked it with an 'x'.

The action was against the executors of the late Mr Earls will: his brother Maurice Earls and his brother-in-law William Early.

The executors opposed the challenge. They said the will clearly and accurately reflected Brian's' wishes, and he was fully aware of its contents.

Mr Earls left 50 per cent of his assets, including his home in Ovoca Road in Dublin, and money held in various accounts, to his partner, which reflects his statutory rights under the civil partnership laws.

The rest of those assets was divided among Mr Earls' two sisters and brother.

Mr Earls, who died of a complication while being treated for cancer, also left cash of €30,000 to a friend in Armenia.  He left a number of other items, including rugs, books and his personal writings, to his siblings.

The court heard the will differed from one executed by Mr Earls in March 2013.

In that will, lawyers for the executors said, Mr Laaser did "much better".

In that will, the court heard, as well as the house,the monies in the accounts were left to Mr Laaser.

Maurice Earls told the court  while his brother was only able to make a mark rather than sign the will he "knew exactly what he was doing"

and what was contained in the will.

He said his brother had wanted to make provision for his family members as well as wanting to take care of Said.

He said the family had seen their brother's civil partnership in 2012 to Mr Laaser as something positive, and he had been included in many family events and occasions such as birthday parties.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Kearns said it was important to state there was "no attempt by the defendants to deprive Ms Laaser of his interest in the estate of the deceased."

From evidence before him, the late Mr Earls was anxious "to make fair and proper provisions" for Mr Laaser.

"By no stretch of the imagination" could Mr Laaser be described "as being shut out of the will", he said.

Before his death the late Mr Earls was "well enough to know what he was doing," the Judge said.

This was not a case where any concerns about the execution of the will were warranted, the Judge said.

Following the ruling Mr Laaser said he intended to appeal.

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