Thursday, 20 June 2019

Ceisteanna (115)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

115. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Law Reform Commission has made recommendations to protect persons making wills in order to deter unscrupulous parties from posing as friends of the person and, thereafter, exerting undue influence from which they benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25893/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The position is that Part VII of the Succession Act 1965 sets out the legal requirements for the making of a valid will and provides robust safeguards in relation to the validity of wills.

It is, of course, possible for a person to commence legal proceedings challenging a will on the grounds of either the diminished capacity of the testator to make a valid will, or the testator's ability freely to make decisions in disposing of their property by will.

When determining whether or not a testator had the capacity to make a will, courts will generally consider whether he or she understood the nature of the act of making the will and its effect, and whether the testator understood the extent of the property of which he or she was disposing.

Where undue influence is alleged, the law places the burden of proving such undue influence on the person alleging it. In order to succeed, the court must be satisfied that:

(a) the person alleged to exert the influence had the power or opportunity to do so;

(b) undue influence was in fact exerted; and

(c) the will was the product of that influence.

The Law Reform Commission has not made recommendations for changes in this aspect of succession legislation. I consider that current legislation and associated case law provides strong safeguards in this area of succession law and, consequently, I have no current plans to amend existing legislation.