In this brief guide we look at Caveats, Warnings and Appearances in inheritance disputes
A caveat is a procedure that is used to prevent a grant of probate from being issued in an estate. A caveat can be issued without giving notice to the executors or beneficiaries. We have prepared a comprehensive guide on How to Enter a Caveat.
Caveats 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. A fixed fee can be agreed to carry out this task.
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. If this is not done correctly the caveat could be ineffective.
A fee of £20 (2018) 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Once entered, a caveat can be withdrawn at any time.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 by someone else in an estate you are dealing with you can have it removed so that a grant of probate can be obtained by issuing 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 14 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 you have entered a caveat and you later 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 14 days to enter an appearance before the person who entered the warning can apply to 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.
How we can help with Caveats, Warnings and Appearances
The law governing Caveats, Warnings and Appearances is quite complex. Simple errors can have far reaching consequences and very strict time limits apply. We would therefore recommend that legal advice be taken from specialist contentious probate solicitors before a warning or an appearance is entered, especially as these steps can give rise to a liability for legal costs.
Our inheritance disputes team are on hand to provide free initial guidance to anyone who is involved in a will dispute and requires assistance with Caveats, Warnings and Appearances. Call us on 0808 139 1599 or send us an email.