Probate Claims – What if no response is made for information?

Often or not we are contacted when potential beneficiaries or claimants have not progressed  their attempts to obtain information or the executors or administrators are simply stone walling the potential claimants.

As explained there is a formal process for obtaining information and this is usually started by what is known as a ‘Larke v Nugus’ letter.

There are circumstances where information cannot be produced; for example where the will was made some years ago and the will file has been destroyed. This is becoming less common due to the advancement of the digital age as most files have and are now stored electronically.

Even if in the above case where the file is destroyed the solicitors are obliged to provide a statement as to, inter alia, the circumstances surrounding the preparation of the will.

In our experience problems arise with lay executors and particularly where home made wills have been made. In this type of situation the lay executors, perhaps not fully grasping the potential implications of not consenting to the disclosures, have refused to agree to disclose.

Whatever the reason, the court has power under rule 31.16 of the Civil procedure Rules to order pre-action disclosure of documents in order to either dispose fairly of the anticipated proceedings, or assist the dispute to be resolved without proceedings, or save costs, this would involve an application to the court.

In these situations it is not uncommon for the court to award the costs against the party or parties who have refused to disclose the information requested.