‘Caveat’ is a Latin word telling the reader to beware of something. And thus we have ‘caveat canem’ beware the dog, ‘caveat emptor’ beware the buyer, and so on. It follows a ‘probate caveat’ says ‘watch out, before applying for a grant of probate or letters of administration’ for a particular estate.
How a Probate Caveat Works in Principle
A probate caveat comes in handy if you don’t believe a will is valid – or you don’t think the executor or administrator is doing things correctly. However, in the latter instance their actions must affect your rights directly. Thus you need to have a personal interest in the estate.
In either instance you can enter a caveat at a probate registry that stops the process in its tracks, but not forever. Letters of probate or administration are temporarily frozen, and the winding up of the estate grinds to a halt.
You can then use this opportunity to decide what to do next, and perhaps ask a solicitor to assist you too. However, a caveat of another kind applies here. Make sure you have a valid, thought-through reason for lodging a caveat probate.
Therefore, It may be a Good Idea to Ask a Solicitor First
You should only register a caveat probate, if you have a genuine, valid reason to become a ‘probate caveator’, and are aged over 18. For example:
- You might believe the will is fraudulent or invalid
- You could have reasonable cause to suspect undue influence
- You may know of unusual factors affecting succession
- You reasonably suspect the executor is overlooking the will’s intention
Here are The Rules if You Decide to Apply for a Caveat
A caveat application may be submitted online, or posted to any Principal Registry of the Family Division. You may also post it, or hand it in at a District Probate Registry. They will expect you to provide the following information regardless of method:
- Virtual or actual Form PA8A
- The full name and date of birth of the deceased
- The last address of the person who died
- A home address in England or Wales
- The £20 probate caveat application fee
Probate caveats remain open for six months only. You can complete another form and pay a further £20 if you have a valid reason for renewing your status.
What Happens Next to Your Probate Caveat
You don’t have to tell anybody else about your probate caveat. The Family Division should tell the executor or the administrator. As for the rest, it is their duty to stay informed.
However, if any party disagrees with what you did, they can issue a ‘warning’ they don’t agree. In that case, you have to appear in Court within eight days to justify your caveat. If you don’t do so, then the executor or administrator can press for their grant of probate or letters of administration.
However, if you do appear, then the Court will try to resolve the dispute through compromise. We’ll end this post here. That’s because what happens in a deadlock is another story for another day.