Can I remove a caveat?

People regularly ask us, ‘Can I remove a caveat?’ The simple answer is that you can remove a caveat, and here is an explanation of the steps that you need to take.

Caveats are used where there are grounds to believe a Will is not valid. A caveat allows time for the validity of a Will to be investigated before the estate is administered. For a full explanation of what a caveat is, you can read our guide to caveats here.

While a caveat remains in place the Will is prevented from being accepted by the Probate Registry and a Grant of Probate will be blocked.

However, if a caveat has been issued in an estate in which you have an interest (e.g. where you are an executor or beneficiary under the Will) it is possible to seek its removal where there is no justification for its continued existence. This will include situations where a caveat has been entered inappropriately (such as in an Inheritance Act claim), where the caveat is being used to frustrate or delay the administration of the estate, or where the grounds for contesting the Will are unsupported by the evidence.

In the first instance, you can ask the person who entered the caveat (‘the caveator’) to remove the caveat voluntarily. If they do not agree to remove it, then your next option is to apply to ‘warn off’ the caveat at the Probate Registry.

A ‘warning’ is a legal application submitted to the Probate Registry and then served upon the caveator. Within the warning you must set out your interest in the estate and details regarding the dispute of the Will.

The caveator will then have fourteen days to respond to the warning by either entering an ‘appearance’ or issuing a summons for directions.  If neither step is taken the caveat will cease to have effect and probate can continue.

When a caveator enters an appearance they must set out the grounds on which the validity of the Will is challenged. An appearance has the effect of ‘sealing’ the caveat, which means that it can then only be removed by agreement between the caveator and the person who issued the warning, or by order of the Court.

It is important to bear in mind that there are costs risks associated with caveats, warnings and appearances, and tight time limits apply. You may therefore wish to seek specialist legal guidance before proceeding.

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Can I remove a caveat?