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How To Challenge A Will: The First Step – A Larke V Nugus Request

If you have concerns as to the validity of a will, or the circumstances in which the will was written, prepared or executed, you may be able to investigate this. For example, you may have concerns that the testator was coerced, under undue influence or there may be questions as to their capacity and being able to freely enter into a will.

Before bringing a claim to challenge the validity of a will, and as part of any merits assessment of your potential claim, you can seek clarification from the will writer or solicitor who drafted the will for specific information and documentation in relation to the preparation of the will. This is known as a Larke v Nugus request.

What is a Larke v Nugus request

This precedent was set by the 1979 Court of Appeal case where the claimants were concerned about the validity of a deceased’s will believing the deceased was under undue influence. The claimants made requests to the solicitors who drafted the will, but they failed to respond. A claim was then brought with respect to their failure and omission to comply with their investigations. The court held that executors should make every effort to avoid litigation and provide information to the claimants. It was held that a copy of the will should have been provided. The court further stated that a testator’s solicitor can also be called on to give statement in relation to the circumstances of the will’s preparation and execution, even where they are not an executor.

How to make the request

The request is not prepared using a standard form or template, as each case is unique to the facts and circumstances. However, the most common form of making a request is by way of a basic letter asking a series of questions in relation to the preparation and execution of the will. The purpose of the request/letter is to obtain adequate information, usually by disappointed beneficiaries who expected to have a provision contained with the will, or in circumstances where there are questions over the testator’s capacity.

As part of the request, you can also seek to obtain a copy of the full will file, which will contain copies of telephone attendance notes and preparation notes and should have sufficient information to answer your queries and satisfy any queries you may have.

You may be called upon to meet any administrative charges such as photocopying to comply with such as request.

How to respond to a Larke v Nugus request

When you do receive a request, there is no duty to respond. However, there is a duty to avoid litigation and this can usually be avoided in the first instance by responding to the request. You often have to consider your duty of confidentiality and disclosure alongside the request that has been made. In some circumstances, the will writer may have to seek the consent of the personal representative of the deceased before releasing any documentation and files.

If you would like to find out more about challenging a will, contact our leading Dispute Resolution solicitors now on 0330 822 3451 or request a call back. 

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