Dying farmer 'unfit' to sign estate over to nephew in will, court told
A farmer's signature on a will five days before he died of cancer in his hospital bed was "an extraordinary squiggle" made when he was too ill to do so, the High Court heard.
Bachelor Michael Buckley (76), from Caim near Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, was not of sound mind when he left his entire 54-acre farm and stock, estimated to be worth between €500,000 to €1m, to his nephew Richard Cooper Jr, it is claimed by four of the deceased's siblings.
Joseph, William and Elizabeth Buckley and Teresa Doyle want the court to condemn the will. Mr Cooper Jr, who built his family home on a site on the farm sold to him by his uncle, is opposing the action.
He also denies his uncle was acting under undue influence and lacked mental capacity to make the will. Mr Buckley died on March 20, 2011, from colon cancer. He had been in extremely poor health for a number of months before he was diagnosed.
He underwent a major operation which did not improve his condition, was suffering from sepsis, and receiving palliative care, the court heard.
About a week before he died, local solicitor John Mernagh was asked by Ms Sheila Cooper to go to the hospital to take his will.
But Mr Mernagh found him unresponsive and not engaging in a way that suggested he was capable of making a will, Michael Counihan SC, for the Buckley siblings said.
A few days later, on March 15, Ms Cooper's husband Dick asked another local firm to attend him to take a will urgently. The solicitor, Jason Dunne, told the court he found Mr Buckley was alert and coherent. He knew he was making a will and who he wanted his estate to go to, Mr Dunne said.