Fianna Fáil election candidate allegedly ‘coerced’ elderly man to make will

A Fianna Fáil local election candidate allegedly befriended an elderly man with mental issues and later encouraged him to execute a new will, according to court documents.

County Louth’s Shane McGuinness was also accused of asking Frank Haughey to transfer his property deeds less than two months after a doctor said Haughey did “not have the ability to look after his own affairs”.

Last week The Ditch reported that McGuinness, who is seeking election to Louth County Council, lied about his criminal conviction for breaching planning law.

‘Deep concerns’

Patrick Bergin first brought legal proceedings against Shane McGuinness in 2014 concerning the will and testament of the late Frank Haughey. A lengthy legal battle over preliminary issues that arose in the case was resolved by the High Court in 2022. 

Lawyers for Bergin issued a statement of claim against McGuinness in February 2022 in which they outlined their case against the Fianna Fáil election candidate.

The statement claimed that Bergin was “the closest friend and carer” for Haughey. It further alleged that Haughey, who had no other family, executed his last true will and testament in 2004, in which he left most of his property to Bergin.

McGuinness “befriended” Haughey after his mental capacity had “begun to materially deteriorate”, it was alleged.

In July 2011 Haughey’s doctor, Dr Noeleen Mangan, assessed him and noted that he had “no orientation in time, no recall ability” and was “unable to read or calculate”. 

Mangan, a Dundalk-based GP, later recorded in August 2011 that Haughey “appears to have deteriorated mentally over the past few years” and “does not have the ability to look after his own affairs”.

The following month, September 2011, McGuinness allegedly “attempted to procure a transferring by the deceased to the defendant of title deeds to the deceased’s properties”.

Haughey’s solicitor of 20 years, Ciaran Connolly, expressed concerns about the “legitimacy” of the proposed transaction.

“Given the nature of the proposal and the age of our client we have deep concerns re undue influence,” wrote Connolly on 28 November, 2011.

It was further alleged that McGuinness “procured, coerced or otherwise arranged” for Haughey to attend the offices of another solicitor in Dundalk on 16 January, 2012, to execute a new will and testament. 

McGuinness was “anxious that (Haughey) would make a will,” according to notes written by McDonough & Breen solicitors. 

“There is no doubt that (Haughey) would never have thought (about) making a will if (McGuinness) had not encouraged him to do so,” according to the solicitor’s records.

Haughey named McGuinness as the person entitled to his properties under the newly executed will.

“The execution of the pretend will was procured by reason of duress and undue influence being exerted upon him by the defendant (McGuinness) and the deceased was not acting freely and voluntarily at the time,” it was alleged.

Bergin is seeking an order from the High Court confirming as valid the 2004 will and cancelling the grant of probate issued in 2013 on foot of the disputed 2012 will.

When asked if he wished to comment on the allegations, Shane McGuinness told The Ditch earlier today that he had “forwarded the content of this email to my solicitors”.

The Ditch editors

The Ditch editors