In our latest online Q&A, partner and head of our contentious probate department Robert Weston covers the often-complex issues of caveats around a deceased person’s estate and the key facts you need to know.
First and foremost, a caveat should only be entered into by a person who has an interest in an estate, or who wishes to oppose the issue of a grant to another person.
If the purpose is to ascertain when a grant issues, to register a client’s interest as a creditor of the estate, to launch proceedings against the estate, or to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, something which is known as a ‘standing search’ should be applied for.
If you are thinking of entering a caveat, or need advice if you’ve already entered one, then we are here to give all the professional advice you need. However, the following Q&A will help give some context.
Q. What is a caveat?
A. If a person interested in a deceased’s estate wishes to prevent a grant being issued, they do so by entering a caveat. This is basically a written notice that can be entered on line or at a Probate Registry on the payment of a fee – currently £3.00. Once entered you will receive a notice that it has been entered and the notice will provide a caveat number,
Q. What is the purpose of a caveat?
A. The entry of a caveat prevents a grant being issued to another person.
Q. Why is a caveat entered into?
A. Typical reasons for wanting to oppose the issue of a grant are:
- Because the caveator (the person who enters the caveat) has doubts about the validity of the will and wishes to make enquiries, or;
- does not consider that the person who will be applying for the Grant will properly administer the estate, or is the appropriate person to be applying.
Q. How long does a caveat remain in place?
A. A caveat is effective for six months. It can be extended on an ongoing basis for six months at a time during the last month before it is due to expire on line or in writing. A further fee of £3.00 is payable. The Probate Registry do not send a reminder.
Q. What happens once a caveat has been entered?
A. It prevents most types of grants of probate from issuing. A person interested in obtaining a grant can seek to remove the caveat by serving a “Warning” on the caveator. This step can ultimately result in the caveat becoming permanent and can result in Court proceedings being issued and legal costs being incurred. It is therefore best to obtain legal advice before entering a caveat.
Robert is a nationally respected contentious trusts and probate expert and represents clients across the UK in complex wills and inheritance cases. For the past seven years Robert has been named as a top tier lawyer in the industry’s elite list - the Legal 500. He also presents regularly to industry professionals and in-house lawyers on probate-related issues and best practice.