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Search for Irish family of dead tycoon sisters

THE SEARCH is on for the long lost relatives of two multi- millionaire sisters who died in the US.

But far from securing a fortune from the Kerry women's vast wealth, these descendants will not receive a penny.

The estate of Mary Teresa Hayes and Nora Hayes, who were originally from Coolkeragh, Listowel, Co Kerry, will go directly to a number of animal charities, once lawyers have contacted all their relatives.

Louis McDonough, a solicitor from Listowel, Co Kerry, is searching for the blood relatives of the two sisters who both lived at 210, East 84th Street, New York, in order to complete legal processes attached to their wills in America.

Mary Teresa died on September 4, 2006, and Nora died on December 19, 1998.

Mr McDonough told the Herald: "It seems to be a requirement of the American probate system that they be provided with information of cousins, so it's to help out an American attorney that we're trying to get the information.

"It's very rare that you have to go looking for relatives."


The solicitor stressed that excited relatives who see an ad in national papers asking them to come forward will be disappointed, because the sisters have bequeathed their massive estate to animal welfare charities.

"The ad elevates expectation, but it's to satisfy a bureaucratic requirement in the US. We were making inquiries on behalf of one of the two Hayes who made a will and it has substantially benefited animal charities.

"They get the residue of the estate. It runs into the millions, and could be three or four million."

Only one person has responded to the solicitor's plea so far, and he has been given information that originally there were five Hayes children, none of whom ever married.

McDonough says relatives who come forward are almost certain not to receive anything from the will, because it's only in extreme cases that wills can be contested.


"I had some dealings with the Hayes family over the years, and I was asked on behalf of their cousins to make inquiries," he said.

"There are very limited circumstances in which relatives may be able to challenge a will but those circumstances are very rare.

"Challenging a will by someone who is not named in the will is not something you can do unless you're a spouse or a child."

He added that solicitors need to fulfil certain requirements to get a grant of probate, which will allow them to release the estate.