A Larke V Nugus Request: Finding Out About The Preparation And Execution Of Someone’s Will
What is a Larke v Nugus request?
A Larke v Nugus request originates from a case of the same name, whereby the Court of Appeal confirmed what action should be taken when a professional Will writer receives a request for information about the preparation and execution of a Will made by one of their clients.
Who can make a Larke v Nugus request?
More often than not, these requests are made on behalf of disappointed beneficiaries, who expected to be named in a Will but are not. Alternatively, these requests can be made when a person believes that the Testator – being the person who made the Will – lacked Testamentary Capacity at the time when the Will was made.
Therefore, if you have legal standing to make a claim against a person’s Estate or to contest their capacity, or believe that you may have, you could make a Larke v Nugus request.
What information is requested in a Larke v Nugus request?
If you are making a Larke v Nugus request, you should tailor the questions to find out the information that you need to know; not just blindly ask questions about the deceased with no real purpose. It is not really a “one size fits all” type of request.
For example, if you have concerns about whether the Testator – the person who made the Will – had capacity to make a Will, the questions that should be asked of the original Will writers should try and uncover whether the deceased’s capacity was assessed when making the Will, and how this was done. Who checked the testator’s capacity, and did they have any concerns? If they did, how did they deal with these?
If there were questions over the capacity of the Testator, was the golden rule followed? Basically, the golden rule states that if a person’s capacity could be in question, one of the witnesses to their Will should be a qualified medical professional who can attest to the Testator’s capacity. You can read more about the golden rule in our expert Wills and Probate Solicitors blog, here.
If the concerns about the Testator lie with constraints of their physical ability to have made a Will, such as loss of sight and therefore an inability to read the Will prior to signing, your questions would not generally be the same.
Common Questions asked in a Larke v Nugus request
“Did the deceased exhibit any signs of confusion or loss of memory?”
“What indication did the deceased give to you that she/he knew she/he was making a Will?”
“Who, apart from the attesting witness, was present at the execution of the Will?”
Requesting the Will drafter’s notes
The normal practice would be to request a copy of any telephone note or attendance note made by the Will writer at the time of making their Will. Ideally, you would request a copy of the full Will file, although you may not always decide to do this. If all this information is provided, the person enquiring will be able to assess the full instructions given by the Testator, any advice that was provided, and how the final Will came to be drafted and finalised.
Most of the time, the original Will writer will respond to the enquiries made in the form of a letter, together with attachments of the requested documents or, if necessary, the full Will file. If you have received a response from a Will drafter to your Larke v Nugus request and you suspect that information is missing, you should ask the Will drafter to confirm that the information provided is complete.
Does the Will writer have to respond to a Larke v Nugus request?
There is actually no obligation for a Will drafter to respond to a Larke v Nugus request. However, it is usually advisable for the Will writer to respond and there can be serious consequences of not doing so. Therefore, if you make a Larke v Nugus request, you should generally expect to receive a response.
Can a Probate Solicitors help?
If you want to make a Larke v Nugus request, we would suggest seeking professional legal advice. Sadly, if you do not ask the correct questions, or you ask for too much information, you may not get all the responses that you actually need to help you understand whether you have a potential claim against the deceased’s Estate.
To discuss making a claim with a Larke v Nugus request, contact your local Wills and Probate Solicitors who should be able to advise you on what you need to do.