THE sister of an elderly bachelor farmer allegedly handed €750,000 from the sale of Kerry Group shares he owned to an evangelical Christian church months before he died, a High Court dispute over the brother's will has heard.
The court yesterday adjourned a bid by a surviving brother and nephew to have the farmer's will condemned on the basis that he was influenced by others when he made it and did not have the mental capacity to make it.
The parties cannot be named.
Vinog Faughnan, counsel for the brother and nephew, told the court that the man died in October 2009 and had made a second will a year earlier, having previously made one in 1999.
He had suffered a stroke in January 2008 and went into a nursing home but was later removed from that home, against medical advice, by his now 92-year-old sister to live with her, Mr Faughnan said.
While there was a dispute about the seriousness of the stroke he had suffered, Mr Faughnan said his clients claimed he did not have the capacity to deal with any transactions, including the making of the second will.
That will was done in the presence of his sister and two other members of the church to which a cheque for €750,000 was sent.
Mr Faughnan said the deceased had around 10,000 shares in Kerry Group plc and Kerry Co-op, which were estimated to be worth around €711,000.
Following his death, his clients learned the shares had been cashed before he died against both legal and accountancy advice as the dividend from the shares was better than any other form of investment.
The church returned the cheque to the sister, suggesting she should get legal advice. But it seems the cheque was eventually cashed in December 2008, counsel said.
The brother and nephew disputed the farmer's capacity to make any decision of this nature prior to his death.
They also asserted undue influence in the making of the will because of the presence of two other church members when he did so.
Caoilte O'Connor, for the sister, said his side had only just been informed yesterday that not all the Kerry Group shares had been sold.
The sister had not wanted a hearing of the will dispute because it would have meant a court case, lasting between two and three days, involving legal costs and "leaving nothing at the end" (in the estate).
On the basis of what had been learned about the shares, his side needed more time to re-address matters.
Mr Justice Kearns said he would give the parties a week to try to resolve the dispute and if this did not happen, he would fix a date for the hearing of the entire matter.