Sisters contest woman's will which left estate to friend
Published 22/07/2015 | 02:30
Two sisters of a woman who died from cancer and left her estate to a friend have claimed in the High Court the will is invalid.
Majella Rippington and Edel Banahan, sisters of the late Celine Murphy (50), of Genazzano, Old Naas Road in Dublin, claim undue influence was used to get her to sign the will so that Mary Butler, from Straffan, Co Kildare, would get the proceeds.
The case is also against the executor of the will, Tridentine Bishop Michael Cox who set up the Irish Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The defendants deny the claim that Ms Murphy was under undue influence.
They say Ms Butler and Ms Murphy, who was single and had no children, had been close friends for many years.
The court heard Ms Murphy entrusted the will for safekeeping to Bishop Cox and instructed him the contents were not to be disclosed until three weeks after her death, which occurred on March 15, 2011.
It is claimed Ms Murphy, on a regular visit to Ms Butler's home a week before she died, produced the handwritten will and asked Ms Butler and her (Butler's) daughter Joanna to witness it.
They say she was of sound mind and have counter-claimed, seeking an order that the will is valid.
Majella Rippington, who is representing herself, her husband Shaun and her sister Edel, told the court Ms Murphy was physically and mentally incapable of making the will on March 8, 2011.
Ms Murphy left an estate including an apartment and a life insurance policy allegedly worth €240,000, she says. The defendants claim the total value of the estate was €283,000, which Mrs Rippington disputes.
Mrs Rippington told the court she believed Ms Butler was "a parasitic type of person who got into my sister's life". She also claimed that in January 2011, after a liver biopsy confirmed Ms Murphy's cancer was terminal, Mrs Butler took her to a faith healer in Galway when she was in no fit state to travel.
Dr David Fennelly, consultant oncologist, said Ms Murphy was admitted to St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin on March 9, the day after the will was signed.
While the digital ischemia in her fingers may have affected her physical capacity, he did not believe her mental capacity was affected.
The case continues.