What is the purpose of a caveat?
A Caveat prevents a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration being issued by a Probate Registry.
It is a useful tool to allow additional enquiries to be made if it seems likely that there are grounds to contest a Will which for example could be for the following reasons:-
There is a real concern regarding the validity of a Will.
- An Executor refuses to disclose a copy of a Will.
- Fraud or undue influence in a Will may be suspected.
- The person applying to the Court for a Grant of Representation may not necessarily be the person entitled to do this.
- There are concerns that the Estate assets may be disposed of contrary to the intentions of the Will.
A Caveat is put in place (issued) by making an application to Leeds Probate Registry. This application is supported by information relevant to the matter and a fee will also need to be paid. The person applying for the Caveat is known as the Caveator.
The Caveat remains in force from six months from the date that it is entered (put in place) and in the month before it is due to expire a request can be made to the Probate Registry to extend it for a further period of six months, a further fee will then be required.
So how long does it take to remove a caveat?
Initially, it can be difficult to find out if a caveat has been lodged as no notice has to be given when the Caveat is issued. It can be surprising to an Executor or Administrator to find that a Caveat has been lodged against an Estate.
There are specific steps that need to be taken to have a Caveat removed. The first step would be for the Executor or Administrator to submit what is called a “Warning” which is then served on the Caveator who then needs to advise the Court within 14 days of the Warning of the grounds on which the Caveat was issued in the first place (this is referred to as an “Appearance”).
If an Appearance is not given to the Court then the Probate Registry can proceed and issue the Grant of Representation.
If an Appearance is entered then the Caveat will remain in force indefinitely until matters are finally resolved and this could be by either an application being made to the Probate Registry for a Direction Hearing or alternatively formally contested Probate proceedings being commenced.