A quick guide on how to remove a caveat
We take a quick look at the steps you can take to remove a caveat that has been issued against an estate in which you are an executor or beneficiary.
What is a caveat?
A caveat is a procedure that prevents a grant of probate being issued. Caveats are generally used where the validity of a Will is in dispute and the caveator (the person taking out the caveat) wants to place the administration on hold while the issue is sorted out.
Caveats should not be used for claims under the Inheritance Act, where the correct procedure is for the claimant to enter a standing search so that they are informed when a grant is issued and the six month period for making an Inheritance Act claim commences.
How a caveat is entered
We have prepared a useful guide on How to Enter a Caveat.
Who can enter a caveat?
Caveats can be entered by anyone with an interest in the estate without notice being given. Executors and beneficiaries are frequently surprised to find that their application for a Grant of Probate (or a Grant of Representation) has been rejected because a caveat has been entered against the estate.
Once a caveat is in place the executor’s hands are tied. A Grant cannot be issued and the administration of the estate is put on hold. Although a caveat is only effective for 6 months it can be renewed indefinitely, so it is a very effective means of preventing an estate being administered.
How to remove a caveat
Caveats are not always entered in appropriate situations, and in these cases the executor may with to remove the caveat.
This includes the following circumstances:
- where people who do not understand the law have entered the caveat inappropriately eg in an Inheritance Act claim.
- where people abuse the system intentionally, entering a caveat simply to frustrate the administration of the estate.
- where the grounds for contesting the Will are weaker unsupported by the evidence.
In these cases the first step is to issue a ‘Warning’ at the Probate Registry. This is a formal legal Notice which is served on the caveator. The caveat will then cease to have effect and allow a Grant to be issued unless the caveator responds by entering an ‘Appearance’.
The appearance has the effect of ‘sealing’ the caveat. Once a caveat is ‘sealed’ by the court it can then only be removed:
a) by consent between the parties to the dispute, subject to approval of the court, or
b) by order of the Court.
If an Appearance has been entered and the caveator refuses to consent to its removal then you can consider seeking directions form the court.
Seeking directions from the court
Where a sealed caveat is in place, an executor, administrator or beneficiary can issue a court summons for directions. This can include a request for the court to decide whether or not the caveat should be removed.
The court can also order the caveator to issue court proceedings for the dispute to be resolved. This has the effect of putting the caveator under an obligation to get on with their legal challenge. A time limit is frequently imposed and if action is not taken by the deadline then the caveat is removed.
How we can help you to remove a caveat
Our Legal 500 recommended solicitors are highly experienced in challenging caveats and can help with issuing a Warning or seeking directions from the court.
You can read here about one of the many cases involving the removal of a caveat that we have successfully dealt with.
We are always happy to provide initial guidance on a free of charge basis, and set out the options available to you.
We can also discuss funding, including our ‘deferred fees’ arrangement where we receive payment at the end of the dispute when the estate assets can be released.
For free initial guidance on removing a caveat call us on 0333 888 0404 or send an email with details of the case to [email protected].