Probate Caveat - How to stop a grant of probate

15/06/2017
When a person dies, they usually leave an estate (including money, possessions and property) and sometimes a will. Within the will the deceased will set out the names of one or more executors to handle their affairs after they die; collecting in the assets, settling any debts, paying any inheritance tax and then distributing any balance to the stated beneficiaries.

In order to fulfil their role, the Executor will need to get a Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry. For the majority of Executors the application for probate is straight forward and follows this 4 step process:

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(Important - Whether you have inheritance tax to pay or not, you'll still need to complete an Inheritance Tax Form and submit it to HMRC)

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 Swear an oath

The challenge arises when someone has concerns over the Executor applying and whether they have the right to do so. In cases like this you are called the Caveator and can enter a probate caveat to temporarily stop the grant being issued whilst you ask a court (not the Probate Registry) to consider your claim.


We handle the complete service of administering the estate including application for Grant of Representation, payment of Inheritance Tax due, collection of the estate's assets, conveyancing for the sale, payment of any debts/unpaid bills and final distribution to the beneficiaries.

Call 0333 344 3234 for a Fixed Probate Fee Quote for Wills & Probate specialists

Fixed Fee, No Sale No Fee and Unbeatable Value Solicitors.

 

When should you use a probate caveat?

A caveat should be used to prevent a grant of probate being issued whilst a Caveator investigates whether there are grounds to oppose the grant.

Example of this from the HM Courts & Tribunal Service are:
  • the will may not be legal – for example, is it the deceased person’s last will? Was the deceased ‘of sound mind’ (mentally competent) when it was made? Was it properly signed and witnessed? Has it been tampered with? Did the deceased re-marry or enter into a legal civil partnership after the will was made?
  • the person intending to apply for a grant may not be entitled to do so; or
  • there may be a dispute between people equally entitled to apply for a grant.

Who is eligible to be a Caveator?

  • Anyone over 18
  • England or Wales, or be represented by a solicitor in England or Wales
  • You must be able to show that you have one of the following interests in the will:
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an interest – in other words, you are entitled to share in the estate;

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a contrary interest – in other words, you have a different interest from the applicant for a grant.


You cannot enter a caveat jointly with anyone else – anyone who wants to enter a caveat must do so independently.

How do I enter a caveat?

Most people get a solicitor to handle this as the process can get complex as the parties dispute claims, however you can do it yourself.


This sets outs:
  • A formal written request for a caveat to be entered
  • Full details about the deceased person including last permanent address (you'll need the information from the Death Certificate)
  • Your name, address and the same of your solicitor
The service costs £20 and cheques should be made payable to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’.

You should enter a caveat as soon as possible. a caveat lasts 6 months and can be extended for another 6 months for an additional £20 fee.

You must ensure that the name of the deceased is correct otherwise the caveat will be ineffective. You can still apply for a caveat without a death certificate, however you must provide as much information that you know about the deceased and as accurately as you can make it.

What happens after I’ve entered a caveat?

The Probate Registry sends you a confirmation note which includes details of the caveat you have entered, including a caveat number. The applicant is informed and the application for a grant of representation is put on hold.

The Executor can issue a warning against you for applying a caveat and you must respond to the warning setting out why a grant should not be issued and your reasons for opposing the application the Executor made. This process is called an Appearance.

If the dispute is between persons equally entitled to apply you must lodge a summons for directions. You will need legal advice to decide how to respond to a warning. If you fail to respond within the time stated on the warning, the applicant can apply to have your caveat removed by the court.

If the court accepts your appearance, it is called an accepted appearance. Your caveat will then remain in force indefinitely until matters are resolved. If your summons for directions is accepted a hearing will be arranged. Bear in mind that if you enter an appearance or a Summons for Directions you may have to pay not only your own legal fees but those of the person making the application for a grant.

What happens after I’ve entered an appearance?

If the Executor who applied for the grant has issued a warning against you and you have entered an appearance which is accepted, either of you may now take matters further through the courts. This process can be costly and you should seek the support of a probate solicitor to help you.

Need help from a Probate Solicitor?

With the death of a close family member or friend, you may not be feeling up to the task of disputing the grant of probate. If this is the case then you can employ the services of a solicitor to handle the grant of probate and to administer the estate.

Our team of Wills and Probate solicitors are on hand to help through handling this for you. We provide a fixed fee for all the work from grant of probate to final distribution. Call our specialists on 0333 344 3234 or email help@samconveyancing.co.uk.


Related News Articles

 
Grant of Letters of Administration
03/10/2017
Grant of Probate
13/11/2017
Probate Registry
03/09/2017
Understanding the Intestacy Rules: who inherits?
10/01/2018
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