Entering a caveat can be an important and useful preliminary step to take in a potential probate dispute.
A caveat prevents a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration (“a Grant”) from being issued in an estate and therefore prevents the distribution of the estate assets. This allows the person entering the Caveat (“the caveator”) time to carry out investigations into whether there are grounds for bringing a formal claim opposing the Grant intended to prove the last Will of the Deceased.
Why might you wish to enter a caveat?
Possible reasons why you may want to prevent a Grant being issued include:
- Concern about whether the Deceased’s last Will was validly executed
- Concern that the Deceased lacked testamentary capacity to make the Will at the relevant time
- Concern that the Deceased did not know or approve the contents of their Will
- Concern that the Deceased’s Will came about as a result of the undue influence of a third party
- The person who intends to apply for the Grant is not a suitable person to act, or may abuse their position
- Concern that the testator’s estate will be disposed of in a manner contrary to the terms of the Will or intestacy provisions
- Concern that the intestacy provisions are not applicable as the Deceased did leave a valid Will
Who can apply for a caveat?
Anybody with an interest in the Deceased’s estate may apply for a Caveat. That is, anybody who is appointed as an executor, or entitled to benefit from the estate, either under the Deceased’s last Will, a previous Will, or the intestacy rules.
How do I apply for a caveat?You can apply for a caveat online through the Probate Service website. It is also possible to make an application in writing. You can either fill in Form PA8A and either post it, or deliver it by hand to a Probate Registry. Or you can apply without the form, provided you state your request to enter a Caveat, your full name and address, the Deceased’s full name, date of death and last permanent address, together with the probate fee.
Alternatively, you can instruct a solicitor to apply for a Caveat on your behalf.
How much does it cost to lodge a caveat?
The cost of applying for a Caveat is currently £20, although there will be additional fees if you instruct a solicitor to make the application on your behalf.
How long does a caveat last?
A Caveat remains in place for six months from the date that it is entered. A month prior to the expiry of the caveat, the caveator may apply for a six-month extension for a further fee.
A person who disagrees with the entry of the caveat and wishes to apply for a Grant, may issue a Warning off Notice against the caveat. Following service of a Warning, if the caveator wishes the caveat to remain in place, they must submit an Appearance to the Probate Registry within 14 days, setting out their contrary interest in the Deceased’s estate and their reason for the entry of the caveat.
If the caveator does not have a contrary interest in the estate but still objects to a Grant being issued to a particular person, they must issue a summons for directions before a judge, upon receipt of a Warning off Notice. The court will then decide the most appropriate way forward.
If an Appearance is entered, the Caveat will remain in place until the Court orders its removal, or the parties agree to its removal by consent. We strongly recommend that you take legal advice before entering an Appearance, since there may be personal costs consequences for you in the future, if a Court deems that the entry of the Caveat was unwarranted in the first place. Expert advice should therefore be sought at the outset.
If an Appearance is not entered within the time period, the Caveat falls away and the application for the Grant will proceed.