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A Caveat prevents a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration being issued by a Probate Registry.
A Caveat – used properly – is a useful tool to allow additional enquiries to be made if it seems likely that there are grounds to contest a Will. For example
- 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 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 know as the Caveator.
How long does a Caveat last?
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 on payment of a further fee.
How do you remove a Caveat?
As no notice has to be given when a Caveat is issued it can be surprising to an Executor or Administrator to find that a Caveat has been lodged against an Estate.
It may be possible to agree with the person who has entered the Caveat (the Caveator) that they should remove it. In this case they simply write to the Probate Registry asking for it to be removed.
If this cannot be dealt with by agreement then action will need to be taken to remove the Caveat. The first step would be for the Executor or Administrator to submit what is called a “Warning” which is then served on the Caveator. They then have 14 days from the Warning being served to submit their grounds for maintaining the Caveat (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.
Pitfalls of Caveats
Lodging and Maintaining a Caveat for the wrong reasons or by the wrong person can be a costly mistake. Entering an Appearance brings with it costs risks that can be avoided with the right professional advice.
In the same way, taking action to remove a Caveat is necessary in many cases to allow the administration of the Estate to proceed properly.