The SWW wrote an article back in 2016 addressing some of the key questions we get when it comes to Larke v Nugus letters. The sad fact is there are always likely to be disgruntled beneficiaries or those who think they ought to inherit more under a Will. As a result there is the possibility of challenges against Wills and thus the Will Writer who wrote them to consider. (This is why PII is so important). Larke v Nugus letters may also be used where the capacity of the testator and the validity of the Will is in doubt.
These challenges initially begin in the form of a Larke v Nugus letter. This is in essense a letter from a solicitor asking a Will Writer to open up their case file so that they can assess the notes taken, the advice given, and to assess whether the claims made by the claimant have substance.
Its nature and effect?
Receiving a Larke v Nugus letter can seem rather scary but this short article should give further insight as to why they are sent, what you should do, and what it all means.
A Larke v Nugus letter is sent when there is a dispute with a Will and the purpose of the letter is to gather as much information about the preparation and circumstances surrounding the creation of the Will as possible.
The Law Society in 1959 recommended that the Solicitor receiving the letter should prepare a statement for evidence containing the circumstances surrounding the execution and validity of the Will.
Information that should be provided in response to the Larke v Nugus include:
- The relationship between the Will Writer and the Testator
- Details on how the instructions were given and who was present at the time
- Information on how mental capacity was established and documented
- Earlier Wills, how does the new Will differ from earlier Wills and for what reasons
- Whether the information provided to the testator was explained and understood
- The execution of the Will, who was present and where it took place
This information should be supported by a copy of your contemporaneous notes or client file.
Scrutiny of this information will allow for an informed decision to be made as to whether there are any issues surrounding the validity of the document. It may sometimes be the case that after receiving this information the solicitors are satisfied that there is no case to answer. It is however necessary to provide a response to such a request.
Although there are no set timescales for a response, the information should be provided in a timely manner to avoid court action and/or being penalised. You ought to respond as soon as reasonably practical.
If you are in doubt as to what to do or what is expected when you receive a letter about the validity of one of your Wills, you are welcome to contact the Society of Will Writers Technical Team for advice. This is a benefit of full membership.