LOOKING FOR BENEFICIARIES.
|The long litigation in connection with the estate of William Walsh,
formerly of St. Arnaud, farmer, who died in 1920 has not yet been completed, and it will be some months
before the final certificate of the chief clerk of the Supreme Court is given which will enable the estate to
be distributed among those found entitled to share in the estate (Melbourne "Age" of February 2).
Walsh, who was well known in St. Arnaud for his thrifty habits, on his death left property valued at about £40,000. By his will he directed that, the estate should be divided among the children of his first cousin in Ireland living at the date of his death. Walsh had arrived in Australia in 1867, and in the latter years of his life he had little correspondence with his relatives in Ireland. The persons who would be entitled to share in the estate were extensively advertised for in Ireland, and as a result of the publicity given that the large estate was waiting claimants about 200 claims were sent in. Under order from the court, the chief clerk was directed to make inquiry as to how many of the claimants were entitled to share in the estate. He did so, and found that five persons had undoubted [missing text]journed this for the production of further evidence.
Mrs. Catherine Ahern had made a claim but this was lodged late, and after the certificate of the chief clerk bad been issued, but not approved by the judge. Mr. C. Duffy (instructed by Messrs. Madden, Butler, Elder, and Graham), on behalf of Mrs. Ahern, yesterday applied to the Acting Chief Justice (Sir Leo Cussen) in the Practice Court for an order directing the chief clerk to inquire into Mrs. Ahern's claim. It was true, he said, that the claim had been lodged late, but he thought if she had a meritorious claim she should not be shut out from any benefits in the estate because she was late. Mr. Sproule (Instructed by Messrs. Hamilton, Wynne and Riddell), on behalf of the executor, did not oppose the claim being gone into, but the position the chief clerk took was that he had given a certificate as to the persons who were entitled to share in the distribution, and he could not alter this without an order of the court. An enormous number of claims had been lodged, and the finding and tracing the antecedents of testator had involved a very great amount of work in Ireland. In some cases all that could be found was the baptismal registers, compulsory registration of births not having been introduced in Ireland at the time of the birth of some of the antecedents. Registrations were kept at the law courts in Dublin, but that building had been overwhelmed [burned in the 1922 Civil War], and many of the records had been destroyed.
The Acting Chief Justice said he would make an order that the chief clerk make inquiry into Mrs. Ahern's claim, and he would settle the form of order later on.
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