A caveat is a procedural device used by somebody who wishes to either (1) dispute the validity of a Will of someone who has died (2) call into question the right of the person who is proposing to administer the estate (a personal representative) or (3) call into question the suitability of the personal representative to administer the estate.
The person who enters a caveat is known as “the caveator”.
A caveat is lodged at the Probate Registry and for the modest sum of £20 there is a six month “block” on any Grant of Probate or Administration (a “Grant of Representation”) being granted. This allows time for the caveator to carry out a full investigation into the points of concern and, if possible, for the parties to resolve the dispute by agreement following negotiation.
If an individual wishes to obtain their Grant of Representation and a caveat has been entered there is a procedure that they can follow to move matters along towards obtaining a Grant of Representation. They would issue what is known as a warning. This is a form which the Probate Registry have to be provided with and which they will “stamp” for the applicant.
That is then served on the caveator who then has a short period of time in which to enter an appearance to the warning. Technically, there is a period of eight days to enter an appearance. However, an appearance can be entered later if the person who submitted the warning does not file the appropriate affidavits with the Probate Registry in a timely manner.
In their appearance the caveator has to set out what their contrary interest is. In other words, they have to clearly state why they object to the Grant of Representation being issued.
Let us say a caveat has been warned and an appearance entered. What is the position then? The person who applied for the Grant of Representation cannot obtain their Grant of Representation until either court proceedings resolve the matter or the parties reach an agreement and agree to discontinue the matter by summons through the Probate Registry.
Note that a caveat prevents a Grant of Representation being issued to anybody other than the caveator. Let us say that the caveator is claiming that a later Will is invalid and that they as personal representative under a previous valid Will should be allowed to take out a Grant of Representation. The personal representative of the later Will should, to avoid any problems, lodge their own caveat to prevent the other application being accepted. You could otherwise have a situation arising where the Probate Registry issue a Grant of Representation of an older Will even when a later Will exists.
The purpose of this blog is to highlight one of the many nuances in the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 that govern caveats. Many believe that caveat prevents any Grant of Representation being issued. It doesn’t.
If you wish for the above, or any other Wills, Trusts or Probate matter to be explained to you in a digestible, clear and concise manner, please contact our offices