When something does not seem right with the way an estate is being handled after the death of a loved one – what can you do?
Stopping probate being issued requires what is known as entering a ‘caveat’ at the Probate Registry to take place.
What is a Caveat and what does it do?
A Caveat stops the people who are Executor(s) or Administrator(s) from obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration and being able to distribute the Estate.
A Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is the legal document that allows the Executor/Administrator to prove that they have the authority to deal with the assets of the deceased. When a Caveat is in place, the assets of an Estate cannot be distributed, known as administration of the Estate.
A Caveat should only be used if you have a genuine reason for wanting to prevent an Executor/Administrator from obtaining a Grant. This has to be more than just not liking the terms of the deceased’s Will.
Reasons for lodging a Caveat
Only a person with reasonable grounds for challenging the validity of a Will should lodge a Caveat.
A Caveat should be considered if you do not think the deceased’s last Will was in fact their last Will, if you think that Will is invalid for any reason or if an intestacy is being pursued and you think a Will had been made.
Who can apply for a caveat?
To apply for a Caveat you must be over the age of 18. You can apply yourself, instruct a solicitor or instruct someone who is licenced to deal with probate.
You may wish to apply for a Caveat if you have an interest in an Estate and believe that there is a valid reason to challenge the validity of a Will or an intestacy.
How to know if you have an interest?
If you believe you should have been included in the Will, or in fact were included in another Will you may wish to bring a claim against the Estate. You may also wish to claim if you believe you are due inheritance under a Will. The Rules of Intestacy may also mean you have an interest in an Estate.
How long does a Caveat last?
Once a Caveat is lodged, it lasts for 6 months. A Caveat can be renewed for a period of 6 months. Once the Caveat expires probate can be granted.
A Caveat can be allowed to lapse or can be removed voluntarily. If it is necessary to challenge a Caveat a Warning needs to be issued. If the person who has lodged the Caveat wishes to prevent the issue of a Grant they will need to file an Appearance and after that the Court will determine the issues.
How to lodge the caveat…
You can write to the Probate Registry or apply online; you will need to sign a Form PA8 which you can find here
When completing the Caveat application, you will need to have the full name, date of death and last address of the person who has died. With this information, providing no probate has already been issued a Caveat will be lodged against the person’s Estate preventing probate being granted.