Sisters contest ‘influenced’ will

Two sisters of a woman who died from cancer and left her estate to a friend have claimed in the High Court that the will is invalid.

Sisters contest ‘influenced’ will

Majella Rippington and Edel Banahan, sisters of the late Celine Murphy, aged 50, of Genazzano, Old Naas Rd, Dublin, claim undue influence was used to get Ms Murphy to sign the will so Mary Butler, Straffan, Kildare, would get the proceeds, which include an apartment.

The case is also against the executor of the will, Tridentine Bishop Michael Cox, who set up the Irish Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The defendants deny the claim that Ms Murphy was under undue influence.

They say Ms Butler and Ms Murphy, who was single and had no children, had been close friends for many years.

They say that Ms Murphy entrusted the will for safekeeping to Bishop Cox and instructed him that the contents were not to be disclosed until three weeks after her death, which occurred on March 15, 2011.

They say Ms Murphy, on a regular visit to Ms Butler’s home, on March 8, 2011, a week before she died, produced the hand written will from her handbag and asked Ms Butler and her daughter Joanna to witness it.

They say she was of sound mind and have counter-claimed seeking an order that the will is valid.

Ms Rippington, who is representing herself, her husband Shaun Rippington, and her sister Ms Banahan, told the court Ms Murphy was physically and mentally incapable of making the will on March 8, 2011.

Ms Murphy, who was 34 years a hair stylist and worked with David Marshall’s in Dawson St, Dublin, left an estate including an apartment and a life assurance policy allegedly worth €240,000, she says. The defendants claim the total value of the estate was €283,000 which Ms Rippington disputes.

Ms Rippington also says Ms Butler is seeking Ms Murphy’s share in the former family home on the Old Naas Road as their mother, Catherine Murphy, died shortly after Ms Murphy and left the house to her four children.

Mrs Rippington told the court she believed Ms Butler was “a parasitic type of person who got into my sister’s life”. She claimed it was Ms Butler who advised her to buy the apartment in 2004 which was completely unsuitable for her needs and overmortgaged.

Mrs Rippington, who is a property letting agent, said she advised her sister against the purchase of the apartment but Ms Murphy was very headstrong and would not listen to members of her family. However, Ms Murphy was quite particular about her affairs and would not have arranged her will in the way she did, she said.

Whenever Ms Rippington found Ms Murphy in the company of Mrs Butler, her sister would not engage with her. Mrs Butler also never came to the family home when their (Murphys’) mother was there, she said.

Ms Rippington also claimed that, in January 2011, after a liver biopsy confirmed Ms Murphy,’s cancer was terminal, Ms Butler took her to a faith healer in Galway when she was in no fit state to travel that distance.

Due to a serious complication from to her cancer, which led to gangrene in her fingers, she was not physically able to do the simplest of tasks, including picking up a pen to sign a a will, Ms Rippington said. She was also not fit to drive herself to Staffan to get the will witnessed, she said.

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