A caveat is a written notice given by someone that prevents a Grant of Probate being issued until it is removed (except in very limited circumstances). A caveat may be entered into when a person disputes the validity of a will or believes a person intending to take out a Grant of Probate is unsuitable.
If a person wants to enter a caveat they should use Form PA8A or apply online. The fee for entering a caveat is £3.
A caveat has effect for 6 months from the date of entry and can be renewed every 6 months. To renew the caveat, an application must be made during the last month of the 6 month period. It is not possible to renew a caveat online or by email and it should be done by post.
The procedural steps to enter a caveat, or to respond to one, can be technical and specialist advice should be sought.
A person who wants a caveat to be removed can challenge the caveat by entering a warning. The warning is issued using Form 4 in Schedule 1 of the Non Contentious Probate Rules 1987.
In the form, the person issuing the warning should set out their interest in the Deceased’s estate. They should also give notice to the person entering the caveat that they have 14 days from the date the warning is served to respond by way of an appearance or issue and serve a summons for directions.
The warning is usually issued by Leeds District Probate Registry.
If the person who has entered a caveat wishes to continue to block the grant of probate from issuing, they can enter an appearance.
The appearance is issued using Form 5 in Schedule 1 of the Non Contentious Probate Rules 1987. The appearance should set out the reasons why the nature of their interest is in conflict with the person who has warned the caveat. In other words, the reasons they are challenging the validity of the will.
There are important deadlines to be aware of. The appearance should be filed within 14 days from the date the warning was served. If the appearance is not entered by this deadline, the person who issued the warning may file an affidavit or witness statement to remove the caveat. This should be filed at the Leeds District Probate Registry.
Once an appearance has been entered, no Grant of Probate can be issued unless a District Judge or Registrar orders it. If agreement cannot be reached, one of the parties may issue court proceedings in the Chancery Division to start a formal action.
If the person who has entered the caveat accepts the will is valid, but is not agreeable to the Grant of Probate being issued to the applicant, they can issue a summons for directions. Again, this should be done within 14 days of the warning being served.