Caveats, warnings and appearances
A caveat is entered at the Probate Registry to prevent the issue of a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. Once a caveat is in place, the Personal Representative will not be able to administer the estate until it has been removed.
When should I stop a grant of representation?
Whether a caveat is appropriate will depend on the circumstances. Entering a caveat may result in court proceedings being issued against you, and legal costs being incurred. We therefore recommend seeking legal advice at your earliest opportunity before entering one.
Generally, you should only enter a caveat if:
- You want to challenge the validity of the will being admitted to probate (for example, you believe the will was forged, the testator did not have mental capacity or you believe there is a later will).
- There is a dispute over who should apply for the grant of representation.
- You have real concern that the proposed Personal Representative will not properly administer the estate.
If you wish to ascertain when a grant is issued, to register your interest as a creditor of the estate or to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, it is not usually necessary to prevent the issue of the grant and instead a standing search should be applied for.
How do I enter a caveat?
A caveat is entered by lodging the prescribed application form at the Probate Registry and paying the fee (currently £20.00).
A caveat will only remain in place for six months (but it can be renewed on expiry). You should use this time to investigate your claim and/or try to resolve any issues or concerns.
Can a caveat be removed?
As set out above, a caveat only remains in place for six months, unless it is renewed. The Personal Representative can however also take steps to try and have it removed. To challenge a caveat, the Personal Representative must lodge a "Warning" at the Probate Registry. There is no fee for the Warning.
The Warning is then served on the person who entered the caveat. They will then have eight days to "enter an Appearance at the Probate Registry. There is no fee for the Appearance.
If there is a failure to enter an appearance, an affidavit of service of the Warning needs to be lodged with the Probate Registry and then the caveat will be removed and the Personal Representative will be able to apply for a grant. If, however, an Appearance is entered then the caveat will remain in place until the issues are resolved and the caveat is removed by consent of the parties or by Court Order.
In many cases it is removed by consent once the substantive issues are resolved or an agreed way to proceed is identified.
If you wish to lodge a caveat it is essential that you do so as soon as possible to avoid a grant of representation being obtained. We do recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as you are able to, to try to resolve any issues by consent and avoid court proceedings if possible.
Our specialist will dispute and contentious probate solicitors offer a fixed fee service to prepare and send the caveat to the Probate Registry. If you would like to instruct us in this regard, please complete the form below and a member of our Disputed Wills, Trusts and Estates Team will be in contact with you shortly (alternatively, you can instruct us by telephone on 01884 203 018).