Caveats and stopping a grant of probate
If you wish to challenge a will after someone has passed away, because you consider that it is not valid, you should act quickly to prevent a grant of probate being obtained in the deceased’s estate. A grant of probate allows an estate to be administered and the assets distributed to the beneficiaries. The more time that passes after a grant of probate is issued, the more difficult it can be to recover assets of the estate if a will is later held to be invalid.
You can stop a grant of probate being issued by entering a caveat in the estate. There is a small fee for this and the caveat lasts for six months. A caveat can be renewed after this time for a further fee. This time will allow you or your solicitor to investigate your potential claims.
A caveat can also be used if there is a dispute about who should apply for probate. You may be concerned that the individual intending to apply for probate is not an appropriate person, for example because they have a criminal record or because they say they will not distribute the estate in accordance with the will or the intestacy (whichever applies).
You can enter a caveat yourself on the Government website or a solicitor can enter it on your behalf. You will need the deceased’s personal details including their full name, address, date of death and date of birth if known. You will also need an address in England and Wales so that any correspondence can be sent to this. If you live abroad, this is not a problem as we can lodge the caveat in the deceased’s estate on your behalf.
We also act for executors or administrators intending to make an application for probate which is subsequently stopped due to a caveat. These individuals can serve a ‘warning’ on the person who has entered the caveat, who is known as the caveator.
If you are a caveator you only have a very limited period to respond to a warning served on you. If you do not accept the caveat should be removed, you will need to enter an ‘appearance’ to justify your reasons for entering the caveat in the first place. If you fail to do so within the time period, the caveat will lapse and a grant of probate can be issued.
If you are looking to enter a caveat in an estate, or you have entered a caveat which has been warned off, you should urgently obtain legal advice due to the short time limits involved. As contentious probate specialists we understand the urgency involved and are able to advise you on the process in a cost-effective manner.
If you would like to discuss a potential will dispute or issue with a caveat, please do not hesitate to contact us or request a callback.