It is becoming increasingly common for wills to be challenged. In such cases it will often be necessary to prevent a grant of representation being issued in respect of the estate. This can be done by given a written notice, known as a caveat, to show that a grant should not be issued without the notification of the person giving the notice (the “caveator”). The caveator must satisfy certain criteria- they must be over 18, have an interest in the estate and be the sole caveator.
Multiple possible grounds for entering a caveat exist. The caveator may doubt the validity of the deceased’s will. Alternatively, when there is an apparent intestacy, the caveator may believe that a valid will exists. A caveat may also be entered when the caveator wishes to make a probate claim. Finally, caveats may be entered where the caveator has an issue with the administrators of the estate, such as doubting their ability to properly carry out their role or to force administrators to act.
The effect of the caveat is to prevent a grant being issued. Generally probate registries will not issue a grant until the caveat has been removed. This allows the caveator to take steps in support of their claim, such as gathering evidence or consulting solicitors. In certain circumstances a grant may be issued despite the existence of the caveat. This includes applications for certain, limited, grants, and instances where the grant is issued on the same day as the entry of the caveat. In addition, a court may order a grant to be issued in spite of the caveat when it considers that the caveat has been entered solely in order to cause problems for the administrators.
If a caveat is entered it will initially last for six months. It can then be renewed every six months until it is removed. A caveat may be withdrawn by the caveator at any time provided certain procedural steps have not taken place. A caveat will also cease to have effect if a judge orders its removal or a caveator fails to enter an appearance to a warning.
Field Overell LLP have experience acting for both executors and claimants in relation to a wide variety of probate disputes. Contact our offices on 024 7622 9582 or 01926 422101 to discuss matters with one of our expert lawyers.
This article is provided for information only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. No reliance should be placed on this article. You should always take legal advice from a qualified lawyer before deciding whether to pursue legal action.