Caveats / Preventing a Grant when there are concerns about the Will

Advice

In this post, we explain what a caveat is and discuss when a Caveat should be obtained and what will happen when a Caveat is issued.

What is a Caveat?

A Caveat is a legal document that will prevent a Grant of Probate from being issued. Once a Caveat has been obtained, the Executors will not be able to secure a Grant by a Probate until the Caveat has been cancelled again.

It is therefore advisable to obtain a Caveat if you need time to make proper enquiries when you suspect that a Will might be invalid for some reason.

When should you obtain a Caveat?

A Caveat should only be used when you have a genuine concern about the validity of a Will, or a genuine concern about a person’s willingness or ability to properly administer an estate.

A Caveat should not be obtained in other circumstances. Therefore, if your only intended action against the Estate is an “Inheritance Act Claim” for reasonable financial provision, you should not seek to obtain a Caveat. It will be considered an abuse of process if you obtain a Caveat just to prolong the time limit associated with such claims, and you might be forced to pay legal costs to the estate if you are found to have obtained a Caveat unnecessarily.

It is advisable for you to obtain a Caveat if you have a genuine concern: –

  • That the Will is invalid because the Will-maker lacked the capacity to make a Will, or didn’t have sufficient knowledge of the contents of the Will, or was the victim of undue influence.
  • That the Will-maker did not comply with the proper formalities when making the Will.
  • That the Will itself is a forgery.
  • That the person set to apply for a Grant is not an appropriate person to do so.
  • That the Estate will not be distributed in accordance with the terms of the Will.

It is also permitted to obtain a Caveat if the executor refuses to provide you with a copy of the will (and you have a realistic expectation of being a beneficiary of the Will).

How do you apply for a Caveat?

To apply for a Caveat, first of all make sure that you have the Will-maker’s full name and address, and the date of his/her death.

Then you should fill in the appropriate application form. It is called the “PA8A – Caveat Application”, and it can be obtained from the Probate Registry’s website.

At the time of writing this blog, it costs £20.00 to apply for the Caveat, and payment should be submitted along with the appropriate application.

Once completed, your application should be posted to:

The Leeds District Probate Registry

31 York Place,

Leeds

LS1 2ED

When a Caveat is in place

Once it has been issued, your Caveat will remain in place for 6 months.

Unless it is renewed, your Caveat will automatically lapse after that time. To renew the Caveat, you should submit an application before the expiry date, and you must pay a further fee (at the time of writing, the fee is £20.00). This will renew your Caveat for a further 6 months.

Whilst your Caveat is in place, if the executor applies for a Grant, the application will be refused.

Beware

Once you have a Caveat, you should be aware that it may be challenged.

If it is successfully challenged, it will be removed.

You will be notified when there is a challenge because you will be “served with a Warning” by those who seek a Grant of Probate. The Warning is just a communication that requires you to formally explain why you have obtained a Caveat, and putting you on notice that the Caveat will be cancelled if you do not provide a formal response within 8 days.

To provide your formal response, you must “Enter and Appearance”. In doing so, you should explain why either 1) you consider the Will to be invalid, or 2) you object to the Grant being issued to those who seek it. If you do not have a valid reason, then your Caveat will be set aside.

If you do not provide your response within 8 days, then a Grant may be sealed and issued by the Probate Registry.

We hope that the advice provided in this blog post has been of use to you.

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