Caveats – What do I do?

I have received a notification that a caveat has been entered – what do I do?

No notice has to be given for the issue of a caveat.

It therefore comes as a surprise that upon application for probate a caveat appears.

Provided you disagree with the caveat there is a procedure to go through for its removal.

A ‘warning’ is issued on the person lodging the caveat asking them to remove it.

They have eight days to make an ‘appearance’ which is a reply to the warning either giving reasons why the caveat should remain in place or they should remove it. If they make on reply the caveat is automatically withdrawn by the court. Application for a grant of probate can then be made.

If an appearance has been made, the caveat will remain in place indefinitely.

There is then a procedure for its removal or formal claim proceedings are commenced.

In these situations legal advice should be taken immediately as there are restrictive time rules in such matters.

A difficult case settled

We acted for a co-executor and beneficiary who was initially informed she was not entitled to any of her late mother’s estate. She was incorrectly advised that the estate passed in its entirety to her stepfather who was not married to her mother.

The Will was complicated by way of trusts and conditions upon which the inheritance was to be divided.

Our clients had taken previous advice, which said she was not entitled to any of the estate. We disagreed with the interpretation of the Will and its clauses together with external evidence as to the making of the will and its intentions.

What was difficult here was that our client and the co-executors had already completed the various claims forms from insurance companies and pensions for the monies to be paid out to the stepfather. They had signed the forms and these were with the companies ready for the transfer of funds to the step father.

We issued expert injunctions to stop the payments.

We then did battle with the stepfather and his various advisers.

After a period of time (a year and a bit) we negotiated a settlement, which took into account our interpretation of the Will and surrounding circumstances.

This resulted in our client receiving a substantial six-figure sum.

Wills and trusts are capable of various interpretations. Often two or more conclusions can be argued and it is vital that you understand this and the various case law that surrounds this type of work.


What happens after a caveat is issued?

Once the caveat is issued it remains in place for six months – there is a procedure for its renewal.

Once issued it stops the grant of probate or letters of Administration.

The person applying for the caveat is known as the caveator.

Anybody applying for a grant will be automatically informed there is a caveat in place.