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In a recent probate action at Nisi Prius Court 1 before Mr Justice Boyd and a city common jury, the dispute over the will of a Limerick lady, Miss Hanoria Toomey, who passed away on the 2nd of September, has come to light. The plaintiff, Thomas Lane of Drumcollogher, Co. Limerick, contested the validity of two wills – one dated 7th September 1912, and the other dated 1st September 1914 – while the defendant, Miss Kate Gleeson from Boheragella, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, who is a niece of the deceased, opposed both on statutory grounds.

Representing the plaintiff, Sergeant Wait, along with Mr P. Lynch, K.C., and Mr P. Kelly, B.L., argued that the first will, made in 1912, was unexceptionable and reflected the true intentions of the testatrix. Miss Toomey, being a maternal figure to her nieces and nephews, distributed her estate, valued at around £1,100, amongst her relatives, with a significant portion bequeathed to the Lane family, with whom she resided. However, the circumstances surrounding the second will, drafted just a day before her demise in 1914, raised suspicion as she expressed a desire to exclude the Gleeson family entirely.

The court heard that a dispute erupted when the appointed executor, Mr Timothy Bennett, declined further involvement, leading Mr Lane to initiate legal proceedings to validate both wills. Upon deliberation, the jury favoured the earlier will of 1912, which was deemed legally sound and duly admitted to probate, while the subsequent will of 1914 was dismissed.

Counsel for the defendant, including Messrs. J. Powell, K.C., D. J. O’Brien, K.C., and J. Riordan, argued against the validity of both wills on behalf of Miss Gleeson, citing uncertainties surrounding the testatrix’s intentions, particularly regarding the exclusion of the Gleeson family in the latter will.

The verdict, upholding the 1912 will, not only settles the inheritance dispute but also sheds light on the intricate familial dynamics and the legal complexities surrounding testamentary documents. The decision underscores the importance of clarity and foresight in estate planning and serves as a cautionary tale for those drafting their wills.

This case serves as a reminder of the significance of legal documentation in matters of inheritance and the complexities that can arise, especially when familial relationships intersect with matters of property and legacy.

Dublin Daily Express – Thursday 24 June 1915

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