High Court rules farmer was not subject to undue influence when making will
A bachelor farmer had testamentary capacity and was not subject to undue influence when he made a will leaving his entire holding to one of his nephews, the High Court ruled.
Mr Justice Charles Meenan overturned a Circuit Court finding that Michael Buckley (76), who had a 54 acre farm at Caim, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, was not of sound disposing mind when he made the will in his hospital bed five days before he died on March 20, 2011.
The farm was left to Richard Cooper jun (40), son of Sheila Cooper, Michael's sister.
Four other siblings of Michael - Teresa Doyle and Joseph, William and Elizabeth Buckley - sued Richard Cooper junior claiming their brother lacked the required mental capacity to properly and legally dispose of his property.
The court heard Michael's health began to deteriorate towards the end of 2010 and by February/March 2011 it was clear he was terminally ill with cancer.
Mr Justice Meenan said after he was hospitalised, his sister Sheila took on the bulk of the responsibility of ensuring he had all his necessities, along with her husband Dick Cooper.
While it was claimed the Coopers "monopolised visiting hours" while he was in hospital, the evidence fell well short of establishing this, the judge. After Michael underwent surgery in early March, hospital visits were restricted by the authorities over fears surrounding infection.
The judge said there was evidence given of a physical altercation between Michael and Richard junior - which the nephew strongly denied ever happened - sometime before Michael got sick. This alleged altercation appeared to relate to financial difficulties Richard jun was having at the time and were probably due to the financial crash, the judge said.