We regularly receive enquiries from people who want to know how to enter a caveat. Many people we speak to have heard the term “caveat” but do not know what one is or how it should be used. This brief guide is designed to help you decide if it is appropriate in your case and if so, how a caveat can be entered.
What is a caveat?
A caveat is a notice entered at the Probate Registry which prevents anyone other than the caveator (the person entering the caveat) obtaining a Grant of Probate. It is a useful tool to use when you are investigating a challenge to a will or dealing with a probate dispute as it can provide you with time to investigate without the estate being administered. A caveat lasts for six months, but can be renewed if you need it to last beyond that.
When can a caveat be used?
A caveat will only have effect if it is entered before a Grant of Probate. If you are considering a will challenge you should therefore ensure you do not delay in entering a caveat. There are several types of claim where a caveat can be used. These include:-
1. Challenges to the validity of a Will;
2. Executor disputes;
3. Investigations into misappropriation of estate funds;
4. Where there are concerns that the estate may be distributed incorrectly.
It is generally inappropriate to enter a caveat when you are bringing a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. In those circumstances it would be more appropriate to enter a Standing Search at the Leeds District Probate Registry.
Please note that penalties can be imposed if a caveat is used inappropriately.
How to enter a caveat
You can instruct a solicitor to enter a caveat on your behalf or you can enter a caveat yourself.
If you want to do it yourself you will need to be over eighteen, have a UK postal address and have an interest in the estate. This interest will usually be because you are a beneficiary under a will or the intestacy rules.
You can enter a caveat by completing form PA8A, which is available from your local Probate Registry, or by sending a letter to the Probate Registry along with a cheque for the fee. Alternatively, you can visit your local Probate Registry and apply in person. The staff are usually helpful and will be happy to offer guidance. You will need to provide details about the person who has passed away (such as their full name, address and date of death) as shown on their death certificate as well as your own name and address.
It is important to be aware that if there are any discrepancies between the information you provide and the information on the death certificate the caveat is likely to be ineffective. It is therefore vitally important to make sure that the application is 100% accurate.
If you are considering entering a caveat it will usually be because you are exploring a probate challenge. Probate claims can be very complex, so it is usually advisable to obtain expert legal advice at an early stage. You may therefore prefer to instruct solicitors to advise you on your options and to enter the caveat on your behalf.
By taking specialist legal advice you will also avoid the risk of being penalised for entering a caveat inappropriately.
How can we help
If you are uncertain about how to enter a caveat, are worried about not doing it properly or you are simply uncertain whether it is the right thing to do, then we are here to help.
We can assess whether entering a caveat is the best way of protecting your legal position. Whilst there are plenty of circumstances where a caveat would be advisable, there are situations when it would not be appropriate. If you enter a caveat when it was not the most suitable course of action the executors of the estate may take steps to have it removed and, if you oppose this, you could find yourself in litigation. It is therefore advisable to obtain specialist legal advice at the outset of your investigations to help you make informed decisions about the options available to you.
Our team of probate dispute specialists are on hand to assist. We can help you understand the different types of probate claim you can make and the steps that should be taken. If you would like to discuss your concerns and how we can help please call our free legal helpline on 0808 139 1599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.