Should I enter in a caveat probate?

Whether or not to enter in a caveat to prevent a grant of probate from being issued is a major decision. It is often the first step taken in the process of contesting a will.
It is described by HM Courts & Tribunals service as used to create ‘breathing space.’ It allows someone the chance to seek legal advice and decide their next course of action. This could be to:
  • Find out whether there are grounds to dispute the validity of a will
  • Investigate concerns that undue influence or fraud may have occurred
  • Resolve disputes between executors or beneficiaries
How it works?
A caveat is a legal document, lodged at the probate registry that prevents probate being granted. Anyone can enter in a caveat; all you need is the full name and last permanent address of the deceased and the date of death. You do not need a death certificate and do not need to be an executor or beneficiary.
When someone tries to apply to probate, they will be informed of the situation, given your details and urged to reach an agreement if possible.  The person applying for probate will have the opportunity to issue a ‘Warning’ to the caveator who will then have 8 days to respond. The response is known as an ‘Appearance’ and details the grounds as to why the Caveat has been issued. Failure to issue an appearance means the personal representative can apply to have the caveat removed.
Once in force, it is valid for 6 months and can be removed if parties reach an agreement but only if no ’Appearance’ has been entered in. In this case, the caveat may only be withdrawn by order of a Registrar. If no agreement is reached in the 6 months, it can be renewed. 

When it is appropriate?
Wherever necessary, it is always best to try to resolve minor disputes before entering in a caveat. If your concerns are of a serious nature, for example you have reason to believe the executor is not going to distribute the estate in accordance with the will; a caveat is your only course of action. It should be done immediately before the probate application has been submitted.

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