Probate Caveat – What Is It?

A probate caveat is a written request made to the Probate Registry to be notified prior to a grant of probate being issued to an executor. The caveator [i.e. the person applying for the probate caveat] will receive notice from the Probate Office if and when a third party intends to obtain a grant of probate. They then have 8 days in which to take legal action to prevent that grant of probate or the caveat ceases to have any effect.

It’s important to note that a probate caveat must have been filed before an application for a grant of probate is received or it will have no effect.

A probate caveat lasts for 6 months.

Why would I want to stop probate?

There are a number of reasons why you might want to stop probate from going ahead, eg because of a dispute over who can apply for a grant of representation or whether a will exists.

This process provides the person granted the caveat with extra time to make enquiries and to obtain relevant information to determine whether or not there may be sufficient grounds to contest the will in some way through the court.

Probate Caveat – an alternative

It is not always appropriate to lodge a caveat i.e. if the grant of probate has already happened. An alternative to applying for a probate caveat is to apply to court for an immediate injunction against the executors of the estate. An injunction in these circumstances is a court order which permits or forbids someone from taking specified action. In probate cases, this could include, for example, preventing the executors from distributing legacies and assets to the beneficiaries until all legal issues are resolved.

As it is a court order, the breach of an injunction is taken seriously. If the executors were to breach an injunction they would become personally liable for both a civil and criminal offence, which can include contempt of court [which itself can carry a prison sentence].

Need a Probate Caveat? Contact us today

Wherever you live in England and Wales, if you’re thinking about contesting a will and need expert advice, our specialist inheritance lawyers can help. We can take your instructions and run your case by e-mail, phone or Skype – or one of our team can meet you in our four offices in Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire. Contact us today.

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