Caveats, warnings & appearances

Our inheritance dispute solicitors are experts in their field, below is a guide to the process of challenging a Will through lodging a caveat, how to challenge a caveat and how to respond to a warning if you have applied for a caveat. If you would like to speak to an expert in relation to an inheritance dispute call us on 0203 816 9314 or complete our enquiry form.

How to lodge a caveat

If you want to challenge the validity of a person’s Will, after they have died, you can lodge a caveat at the probate registry. This will prevent anyone from obtaining a grant of probate for that person’s estate, which would then give them the power to begin administering the estate. A caveat should only be used where you are challenging the validity of a Will. It should not be used to extend the limitation period if you intend on bringing a claim for financial provision from a person’s estate. The court can order costs against you if you use a caveat for this purpose.

Our specialist solicitors offer a fixed price service to prepare and send your caveat to the local District Probate Registry for £249, including VAT and standard HMCS fee. 

The caveat will remain in place for six months, and if you want it to continue after this date, you will have to write to the probate registry and pay a further £20. If you do this, it will be renewed for another six months. If you want to remove a caveat, you can simply write to the probate registry and ask them to remove it, providing that it has not been challenged.

You should use this six month period to investigate your potential claim, and it is advisable that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Stephensons have a specialist inheritance dispute team who will be able to advise you in relation to your dispute. You may also be entitled to legal aid, depending on whether you are financially eligible.

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How to challenge a caveat

If you are trying to apply for a grant of probate, and are informed by the probate registry that someone has entered a caveat, you can take steps to try and have it removed. You will not be able to obtain a grant of probate, or administer the estate, until the caveat is removed.

To challenge the caveat, you have to send a “warning” to the Leeds District Probate Registry. You can find the relevant form that you need to complete here. There is no fee for the warning. This document will be sent to the person who entered the caveat, and in order for their caveat to remain in place, they will have to enter an “appearance” at the Probate Registry. This is not a physical appearance, but is simply a further document which they will have to send to the probate registry within eight days of receiving your warning. 

If they do not enter an appearance, their caveat will be removed, and you will be able to apply for a grant. If they do enter an appearance, then the caveat will remain in place. The only way for it to then be removed is for both you and your opponent to both consent to its removal. If you cannot reach an agreement, then you will have to start court proceedings to have it removed. 

If you cannot come to an agreement with the person who applied for the caveat, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. This is where matters become more complicated. The question of costs may arise and there is a possibility that you could become liable to pay not only your own costs but those of the other person as well. 

Stephensons has a specialist inheritance dispute team who will be able to advise you in relation to your dispute. If you would like to speak to a specialist legal adviser contact us on 0203 816 9314.

What to do if you receive a warning

If you have applied for a caveat at the probate registry, you may at some point receive a “warning” from them. This means that someone, usually the person appointed as the executor in the Will, has discovered your caveat when they have tried to apply for the grant. If you receive a warning, you must act very quickly, as you only have eight days from receiving it, to respond. If you fail to respond within this period, your caveat will automatically be removed, and the executor will then be able to apply for a grant.

To respond to the warning, you have to send an “appearance” to the District Probate Registry where you originally applied for the caveat. This is not a physical appearance, but is simply a further document which you can find here. You must complete this form, briefly stating your reasons for believing that the Will is not valid, and send it to the District Probate Registry. It is advisable to send it by recorded delivery, or special delivery, to ensure that they receive it.

Once you do this, your caveat will remain in place. The only way for it to then be removed is for either both you and the executor to consent to it’s removal, or the executor may issue court proceedings against you to remove it. If you cannot come to an agreement with the executor, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. This is where matters become more complicated. The question of costs may arise and there is a possibility that you could become liable to pay not only your own costs but those of the other person as well. 

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