It is distressing to be recently bereaved but this can be intensified if the contents of the deceased’s will are unexpected.
If you have any doubts about the validity of a will you need to seek specialist legal advice, preferably from a solicitor who is a member of ACTAPS (Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists). Contesting a will can be expensive so the first step a conscientious solicitor should take is to make a Larke v Nugus request.
The Larke v Nugus request derives its name from the case of Larke v Nugus (1979) 123 SJ 327 and takes the form of a letter to the solicitor or other professional responsible for the preparation of the will. Through the use of simple, neutral questions, the letter will seek to ascertain information such as:
A copy of the full file of papers is usually also requested.
This information will inform your solicitor whether the will should be contested or not. For instance it may show that all the proper steps were taken and that the will truly represents the deceased’s wishes, even if they are upsetting. On the other hand it may show, for instance, that the deceased had become confused or unclear and that no medical advice had been sought from the deceased’s GP to determine their capacity.
If there is doubt about the will’s validity your solicitor would move onto the next steps to begin building evidence to contest it. This may involve obtaining the deceased’s medical records and seeking evidence from those in attendance when the will was signed along with friends and family.
By seeking early disclosure of information through a Larke v Nugus request the potentially high cost of raising an action may be avoided as unnecessary or mitigated because any further action will be more informed and focused.