A man who believes he was born in a mother and baby home has been awarded €225,000 from the estate of his estranged birth mother.

The woman did not include the man, her only child, in her will. The retired man, who is in his 60s, applied to the High Court under Section 117 of the Succession Act seeking proper provision out of his late mother’s estate. The Judge said the Plaintiff demonstrated that the woman failed to make proper provision for him in her will.

Up to 1965 a person could do what they pleased with their estate after their death, regardless of their spouse or children’s circumstances. Section 117 of the Succession Act 1965 was introduced providing that a child may apply to the High Court to challenge the will of their parent. The claim is that the parent has not provided for them under their will or otherwise and in accordance with the parent’s moral obligation to do so, taking into consideration the parent’s means. The application to the Court can only be made in cases where the parent has made a will, as where there is no will, the rules of Intestacy will apply, giving prescribed rights to children of the Deceased.  Under Section 117 of the Act, for the child to successfully contest their parent’s will, they must establish a need for provision to be made for them. When deciding on such cases, the Court will take account of the full circumstances of the child and parent.

This case was taken by the Testators son against his mother’s niece, in her capacity as Executrix of the estate. The Court was asked to look at how and if the Testator ought to have provided for her child in her will.

Ms Justice Siobhán Stack ruled that the Plaintiff had discharged the high onus on him, required under section 117, to demonstrate that his mother had failed in her moral duty to make proper provision for him in her will. The Judge said it was undisputed that the deceased never made any provision for her son during her lifetime. However, she noted that, although the deceased did not welcome her son into her life when he was an adult, his evidence nevertheless presented a “poignant image” of the woman. Ms Justice Stack found that, given the absence of any competing moral claim and her intention to leave considerable assets to a series of nieces and nephews, the woman ought to have provided for the Plaintiff in her will.

The Judge ultimately ruled that a lump sum of €225,000 should be awarded to the Plaintiff, to be charged on the estate’s agricultural lands.


NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff LLP, whose numbers can be found on our website www.nfg.ie, or email info@nfg.ie.