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What is a Caveat?

A caveat is a legal notice that prevents anyone from obtaining a grant of probate in a deceased person’s estate. Essentially, it acts as a roadblock, ensuring that the estate cannot be administered while the caveat is in place. Caveats last for six months (and can be extended) unless a probate claim is commenced or if it is ‘warned’ off. People typically use caveats when they have concerns about the validity of the Will or other related matters.

Why put a Caveat on an Estate?

Here are some common scenarios where putting a Caveat on an estate might be considered:

1.Doubts about the Will’s Validity:

If there are suspicions that the Will might be invalid due to undue influence, testator’s lack of testamentary capacity, forgery or fraud.

See note on Challenging validity of a Will.

2.Disputes among Beneficiaries or Family Members:

When there are disagreements over entitlement for the distribution of assets or other matters related to the estate.

3.Doubts about who will be taking out the Grant of Probate

If there are doubts that the person intending to take out a grant is suitable.

When is it not appropriate to use a Caveat?

If you intend to bring a claim against the estate (such as a financial provision claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975), it is not appropriate to use a caveat. The purpose of a caveat is to prevent a grant being issued; the procedure should not be used for bringing a family provision claim.

Instead of entering a caveat, a standing search procedure can be used, which will reveal when the grant was issued.

What is the Caveat Process?

Once a caveat is entered, it remains effective for six months and can then be extended for another six months by an application in writing made during the last month of the caveat’s life. If it isn’t renewed, it expires automatically.

Where you may wish to challenge the validity of a Will, time is of the essence, so it is important to move promptly to lodge a caveat as to ensure that no grant will be issued until it either is removed or has expired.

 

Contact our Litigation and Dispute Resolution experts

Nadine Esaid is a Solicitor, in the Bishop & Sewell Litigation and Dispute Resolution team. If you would like to contact a member of the team please call on 020 7631 4141 or email nesaid@bishopandsewell.co.uk

The above is accurate as at 23 May 2024. The information above may be subject to change.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Category: Blog, News | Date: 23rd May 2024


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