Saturday 24 March 2018

Woman (88) faces €2m debt after sale of home to fund care

Tim Healy

A BANK and a firm of solicitors are being sued for alleged breach of duty over a series of transactions which the Commercial Court heard left an elderly woman without a home and owing nearly €2m.

Elizabeth Ryan (88) – who is a ward of court because she suffers from dementia and who is living in a nursing home – is suing AIB and the firm of Joynt and Crawford Solicitors, of Anglesea Street, Dublin.

She claims that they failed in their duty of care to her over the transactions, in which her family home was sold in an effort to provide for her future accommodation and care.

Her only child, Jonathan Ryan, and his wife Paula are suing the same firm of solicitors for breach of professional duty, claiming that they failed to properly advise them when the transactions involving Elizabeth Ryan assets were being carried out. The claims are denied.

The court heard yesterday that in 2006 Mr Ryan decided to secure his mother's future, after she showed signs of dementia, by selling her home and his own family home on adjoining sites at Castlepark Road/Breffni Lane, Sandycove, Dublin.

The plan was to use €1m from the sale proceeds to provide for her nursing-home care and to buy another house for Mr Ryan and his family. It was decided that the new house should be bought in the mother's name to minimise Mr Ryan's gift-tax liability.

In 2006, shortly after Elizabeth Ryan had gone into the nursing home, Mr Ryan and his wife bought a house at Khyber Lodge, Nerano Road, Dalkey, Dublin for €3.5m.

Mr Ryan had joint power of attorney over his mother's assets and €4.11m was borrowed from AIB in her name to pay for the new property.

The other two houses were sold in 2007 and 2010, fetching a total of around €2.8m. However, around €2m was still owed to AIB. In July 2011, it demanded full repayment from Elizabeth Ryan.

Mr Ryan and his wife, who works for AIB, brought a case against the bank. Elizabeth Ryan's court-appointed ward took an action on her behalf.

Elizabeth Ryan is seeking a declaration that the loan agreement is void and that she does not owe anything to the bank.

She also wants a declaration that she is entitled to judgment against the bank for €1.34m, representing the net proceeds of the sale of her former home, 'Park Lodge' in Sandycove.

She and her son and daughter-in-law are seeking damages against Joynt and Crawford solicitors for professional negligence. The case continues.

Irish Independent

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