Photocopy Will Not Admitted to Probate When Original Will Lost
The deceased man, an elderly farmer, executed a homemade will in 2003 with assistance from two priests who lived nearby.
He died a bachelor without family in 2019 but his original Will was never found. A photocopy of his 2003 Will was located with an original map showing his farm was to be divided up.
The applicant, a grandnephew who was close to his granduncle, applied for the photocopy Will to be admitted to probate. He claimed to have been shown the original Will in 2003 in an envelope, but this was later clarified to refer only to the envelope itself which he saw. Nobody could explain how the photocopy Will came to light nor what happened to the original will.
The court saw several shortcomings in the application. The applicant never actually saw the Will or its contents. The court could not, therefore, find that the photocopy Will was the one in the envelope. The applicant believed the deceased never retained the original Will, but the court saw no evidence to back this up.
The court considered whether to apply the presumption of revocation which is evidence driven and usually relies on circumstantial evidence. The judge in the case did not rule out the possibility that the deceased may have been fond of other relatives and could have changed his mind over time and destroyed the will.
The court held the applicant had failed to discharge the heavy onus of proof required to allow a mere photocopy of the will to be admitted to probate, and therefore the presumption of revocation applied.
This case is In Re: Martin Healy, Deceased  IEHC 49.
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