Caveats, Warnings and Appearances
Contentious probate solicitor, Lee Dawkins summarises the legal position
A caveat is a procedure that is used to prevent probate from being issued in an estate without giving notice to the caveator – the person entering the caveat.
Caveats should not be misused. They are generally used in contested probate claims where there is a dispute concerning the validity of the Will. As the purpose of the caveat is to prevent a grant being issued, a caveat should not be used where someone is bringing a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This is a common mistake even among solicitors. The correct procedure in an Inheritance Act claim is for the claimant to enter a standing search so that they are informed when a grant is issued and the six month period commences.
You can enter a caveat yourself through the Probate Registry. Alternatively, we can enter the caveat for you. Just call our specialist inheritance disputes team on 0808 139 1599 and we will deal with the caveat on your behalf.
When entering a caveat it is important to state the deceased’s details correctly including the deceased’s precise name and date of death as recorded in the register of deaths.
A fee of £20 (2012) is payable when a caveat is taken out.
Once entered, a caveat will stay in force for six months. A caveat can be extended for another six month period by paying a further fee. It is worth making a diary entry to renew the caveat as the Probate Registry will not issue you with a reminder.
A caveat can be entered by anyone, but it cannot be entered jointly with another person.
Once entered, a caveat can be withdrawn at any time. The caveator should write to the Probate Registry to request withdrawal and return the acknowledgement letter that the Probate Registry issued when the caveat was taken out.
If a caveat has been issued and you wish to have it removed so that a grant of probate or grant of letters of administration can be obtained then you will have to issue a warning.
A warning can be issued by completing a Probate Registry form. The person warning must state their interest in the estate.
The warning gives the caveator just eight days to respond.
If no response is made then the person warning can file an affidavit in the Probate Registry which will cause the caveat to cease to have effect.
If having entered a caveat you receive a warning then you must act quickly if you want the caveat to remain in force.
Upon receiving a warning the caveator has just eight days to enter an appearance before the person warning of an affidavit with the Probate Registry for the caveat to be removed.
Once an appearance is entered the caveat will remain in force indefinitely until the inheritance dispute is resolved.
A caveator can also apply to the court for directions.
We would recommend that legal advice be taken from a specialist contentious probate solicitor before a warning or an appearance is entered because these steps can give rise to a liability for legal costs.
Our inheritance disputes team are on hand to provide free initial advice to people who wish to challenge a Will, dispute probate or bring an Inheritance Act claim. Call us on 0808 139 1599.