Q&As

A law firm holds a Will for a deceased person. The firm did not prepare the Will. What action should the firm take where it has been approached by an individual about a potential claim against the estate, but has not been formally instructed? The firm has not disclosed the contents of the Will to the potential claimant. The firm has not had any contact with the sole executor named in the Will.

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Produced in partnership with Gaynor Jackson
Published on LexisPSL on 22/02/2017

The following Wills & Probate Q&A Produced in partnership with Gaynor Jackson provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A law firm holds a Will for a deceased person. The firm did not prepare the Will. What action should the firm take where it has been approached by an individual about a potential claim against the estate, but has not been formally instructed? The firm has not disclosed the contents of the Will to the potential claimant. The firm has not had any contact with the sole executor named in the Will.
  • The SRA Code of Conduct (the Code)
  • Disclosure of documents

In answering this Q&A, we have assumed you have been approached by the potential claimant for information concerning the circumstances in which the Will was made or for details regarding the terms of the Will you hold.

The SRA Code of Conduct (the Code)

Chapter 4 of the Code deals with client confidentiality and disclosure of information. The code states that the protection of confidential information is a fundamental principle of the relationship between the solicitor and their client both as a matter of conduct as well as law. In addition, the code clearly states that confidentiality continues both after the retainer ends and also after the death of the client. Therefore, the duty of confidentiality is owed to the personal representatives of the deceased following the testator's death.

Disclosure of documents

The case of Larke v Nugus [2000] W.T.L.R. 1033; (1979) 123 S.J. 337 (not reported by LexisNexis®) considered the question of disclosure as it relates to the preparation of testamentary documents where there is a challenge to a Will. In that case, the court refused to award costs against the claimant even though their claim failed because the solicitor who made the Will had refused to disclose information at an early stage which could have avoided the trial. The Law Society has prepared a guidance note on Disputed Wills (6

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