The last will of Mary Philomena Maureen McEnroe (otherwise Maureen McEnroe) who left an estate with a net value of some €1.08 million, can be treated as valid, the Court of Appeal (Ireland) has ruled.

Ms McEnroe died in May 2017, and had executed her last will and testament in May 2005 on a home-made, pre-printed will in her hand-writing on two sides of a single sheet of paper. 

Three unexecuted alterations had been made to the will, which included the scoring out by pen of a small number of words such that the words were illegible. None of the alterations were properly executed in line with the requirements of the Succession Act, which requires such alterations to be witnessed or dated.

One of seven siblings, Ms McEnroe’s sister, Evelyn O’Neill, brought proceedings under the Succession Act aimed at having the will proven in its current form and condition.

The case focused on the meaning of the terms “destruction” and “obliteration” in sections 85 and 86 of the Succession Act.

Ms O’Neill appealed to the Court of Appeal after the High Court declined to decide whether the will should be admitted to probate in the absence of “notice” to those who might have an entitlement under intestacy.

The judge was satisfied Ms McEnroe herself had carried out the pen-scoring and that her intention was only to carry out a partial revocation, given the limited nature of the obliterations.

Giving the Court of Appeal judgment, Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh said this was a case where there was no suggestion of third party interference with the will, and that the intention of Ms McEnroe to partially revoke was clear and the scored out portions were relatively minimal and did not involve any essentials, such as Ms McEnroe’s signature or those of the witnesses to the will.

She added that the rest of the will can be treated as valid and it followed there was no entitlement for those who might benefit under intestacy to be represented at a hearing of the will.

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