Contentious Probate Claims – CaveatsPosted: 1st June 2020

Contentious Probate Claims – Caveats, the best £20 you’ll ever spend?

So what is a Caveat?

A Caveat prevents a Grant of Probate being issued in an Estate of someone who has died. If a Grant of Probate has already been issued, it will be too late to apply for a Caveat. and so it’s important to act quickly.

Without a Grant of Probate, the steps that the Personal Representatives or Executors in an Estate can take are limited. For example, the Personal Representatives will not be able to sell a property or deal with most of the other assets in an Estate.

Who can apply for a Caveat?

You must be 18 years’ old and either an Executor named in a Will, a solicitor, or someone who has an interest in an Estate. Only an individual can apply for a Caveat, i.e. you cannot apply jointly with someone else.

How much does a Caveat cost?

The Caveat fee is currently £20.

How do you apply for a Caveat?

You can apply by post or online.

Here is a link to the gov.uk website for more information about how to apply:

https://www.gov.uk/stop-probate-application

How long does a Caveat last?

A Caveat lasts for 6 months. However, it can be renewed for another 6 months during the month before the Caveat expires. Please note though, you cannot currently renew a Caveat online. Instead, you must apply by post to the Leeds District Probate Registry and it costs another £20 to renew a Caveat.

Why would you apply for a Caveat?

There are lots of different reasons why someone might want to apply for a Caveat. However, the main reason is that a Caveat “buys time” for someone who is thinking about bring a claim against the Estate, e.g. to enable them to take legal advice. Here are some examples:

• The person who applies for a Caveat might do so because they believe that the Deceased’s Will is not valid.

• Alternatively, they might believe that there is a Will where the Personal Representative say that there isn’t one.

• The person applying for a Caveat might believe that the Personal Representative will not deal with the Estate properly.

How do you challenge a Caveat?

The Personal Representatives in an Estate can challenge a Caveat by issuing a “Warning”. This essentially puts the person who has the Caveat “on the spot” and forces them to explain why the Caveat should continue. Specifically, the law says that they have to explain formally why their interest is in conflict with the person who issued the Warning.

If the person who has the Caveat wants it to continue, they must enter an “Appearance”. Please note though that strict time limits apply to an Appearance. This must be filed at the Leeds District Probate Registry within 14 days of the date that the Warning was served.

How can we help?

EMG’s Disputes & Litigation team can help with all types of disputes about Wills & Estates. We can also help with Caveats, including Warnings & Appearances.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch. We can offer a free initial 30 minute consultation where we can discuss your case and your options going forward.