Woman cut out of grandmother's €263,000 will over 'living in sin'
Published 14/02/2012 | 05:00
A businesswoman who 'lived in sin' with her boyfriend has been cut out of a €263,000 will after a court heard her grandmother disapproved of unmarried couples living together.
Caroline Barrett (28) of Westfield Road, Basingstoke, England was in line to inherit a one-eighth share of the estate left by her Roscommon-born grandmother, Bridget Gabrielle Murray. who died aged 87 in July 2010.
But her uncles, David and John Murray, and her aunt, Catherine Turk, told the court that their mother was a devout Catholic who was strongly opposed to unmarried couples co-habiting.
They said she disapproved of Ms Barrett's decision to live with her boyfriend for 18 months before they married and had never intended her to benefit from her will, which was drawn up just months before she died. Now Ms Barrett has lost her €32,000 share of her grandmother's fortune after the English High Court ruled her inclusion in the will was a "mistake".
Mrs Murray's son David told the court: "If you talk about the Irish way of living, quite a lot of people are religious and people are struck out of wills all over because of religion."
Mr Murray (61) of Orpington, Kent, told the judge that his mother's religious feelings were so powerful she would never have been happy with her granddaughter benefiting from her will, having lived out of wedlock with a man.
He, his brother and sister insisted the clause in the will bequeathing Ms Barrett a share had been a drafting "mistake".
Judge Robert Miles, sitting at London's High Court, ruled the pious pensioner had not intended Ms Barrett, or her brother David Robertson, to benefit from her will. Whilst accepting Mrs Murray's attitude could be viewed by some as "not particularly fair", he ordered the will to be rectified.
The court heard Mrs Murray maintained her firm religious beliefs throughout her life and was still an active member of the Catholic Council when she died.
Her fourth child, Monica, died three years before her and Mrs Murray's will of March 2010 left a quarter share of her estate between Monica's daughter and son, Ms Barrett and Mr Robertson, of Morston Drift, Kings Lynn, Norfolk.
But a rift developed when Ms Barrett and Mr Robertson's aunt and uncles disputed the document, on the basis that her "intentions differed from those expressed in the will".
Mark Dubbery, counsel for the aunt and uncles, said Mrs Murray had not wanted Monica's children to benefit under her will and they only did so due to an error in drafting.
Edward Hicks, counsel for Ms Barrett and Mr Robertson, put it to Mr Murray that his mother was aware Ms Barrett had got married eventually and that there were many references in the Bible to forgiveness.
But Mr Murray insisted his mother was a very strong character, adding: "My mother was a very religious person. She didn't believe in people living together before marriage."
Ms Barrett told the judge she got married to her partner in September 2008.
She said: "I spoke to her about it. She would say things like, 'When are you going to get married? When are you going to get married?' like all grandparents do. But I wouldn't ever say that she was stern about it." She said Mrs Murray was pleased when she got engaged.
The judge ordered that the will should be rectified.
The €263,000 estate will now be divided between Mrs Murray's three surviving children.