Naomi Ireson, a lawyer specialising in disputed Wills, explains how to enter a caveat and the pitfalls to avoid.
Caveats are used to prevent a grant of probate from being issued when someone has passed away. This will usually be because there is a dispute over the validity of the deceased’s Will. They are also used where there is a dispute between executors, where people are worried that an estate will be incorrectly distributed, or where there is an investigation into the misappropriation of estate assets.
A caveat can be issued without the executors of the estate, or the beneficiaries, being informed. So the first they will know about the caveat is when they try and fail to obtain a grant of probate.
To be effective, a caveat must be entered before a grant of probate has been obtained. It is therefore vital to act quickly.
Caveats should not be used where a claim is being made under the Inheritance Act. In these cases a standing search should be entered so that the claimant is notified when a grant is issued and the six month deadline for issuing the claim kicks in. Penalties can be imposed in cases where a caveat is entered inappropriately, so if in doubt please speak to our team of specialist lawyers.
When the caveat has been entered it remains in force for six months. This is not always sufficient to enable the underlying dispute to be resolved, so many people choose to extend their caveat, and multiple extensions can be obtained. When entering or extending a caveat you should make a diary entry as the Probate Registry will not send you a reminder to renew it.
You can withdraw your caveat if you wish to by writing to the Probate Registry.
A caveat can also be challenged by an interested party. This is done by issuing a ‘warning’ and you can read about issuing a warning here. If a warning is issued then you can apply to make the caveat permanent by entering what is known as an ‘appearance’. You can read about what that procedure involves here.