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Library FAQ: How to find precedents for contentious probate

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The Law Society Library provides guidance on contentious probate (Larke v Nugus) and where precedents and guidance can be found.

The Law Society Library maintains a database of enquiries called Common Queries. These include results from research to find forms, precedents, rules, regulations and guidance. These records can be freely accessed via the library catalogue Library Search.

Contentious probate and Larke v Nugus

Larke v Nugus (also known as Re Moss) was a Court of Appeal case heard on 21 February 1979 which dealt with a disputed will. It was subsequently reported in [2000] WTLR 1033; Court of Appeal transcript 113/1979; (1979) 123 SJ 337 and CLY 79/2565.

The case confirmed that a solicitor should co-operate fully with reasonable enquiries about a will. The Law Society Council ruling of September 1959 stated that a solicitor who acted for a testator in the drawing up of his will should, if the will becomes the subject matter of a dispute after death, make available a statement of his evidence regarding the execution of the will and the circumstances surrounding it to anyone who asks for such a statement; whether or not the solicitor acted for those propounding the will. See [1959] LSG 619 or contact the library for a copy of the original Counsel’s opinion found in Professional Purposes Committee 31 January 1958 (matter No. 6193).

Precedents

In these circumstances, the letter of enquiry about a will is generally referred to as a Larke v Nugus letter and the statement made by a solicitor as a Larke v Nugus statement.

Guidance on what should be contained in a letter is given in [2006] 103 LSG 29, p.31.

A precedent letter can be found in Encyclopaedia of Forms & Precedents, vol.42(2) (2016 reissue) Form 212.

The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS) produced Practice Guidance for the Resolution of Probate and Trust Disputes in March 2006. Annex E contains a template Larke v Nugus letter.

PS: Private Client magazine, (July 2012) p.24 published an article on how to respond to a Larke v Nugus letter.

The Law Society has produced a Disputed Wills practice note (October 2011). This highlights earlier Law Society advice upheld by the Court of Appeal, and provides supplementary information on circumstances for disclosure, failure to disclose, and estate protection. The previous version of the practice note (16 April 2009) is held by the Library and can be found in Probate Practitioner’s Handbook, 6th ed. (2011).

Last checked: 4 June 2018

Copies of all documents listed here can be supplied by e-mail via Lawdocs, our document supply service. 

For help and enquiries please contact the Law Society Library on 020 7320 5946 or e-mail us.

This FAQ is compiled by the Law Society Library. Comments relating to the questions should be sent to library@lawsociety.org.uk.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given. 

 

 

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