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Don't get stuck in checkmate when you challenge a will validity - consider these 5 points before challenging a will

CONTESTING A WILL – LET’S TALK A BIT MORE ABOUT CAVEATS

Will claim Solicitors, specialist no win no fee will dispute and will contest Solicitors, discuss Caveats – but in particular how to get rid of them in will dispute and will contest claims

What is a Caveat and what do they do?

We discussed this very recently, but please see https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=2f67c5c0-3bb2-4d01-a4e8-d1fd4ed1b8fc for another angle to help your understanding.

In addition, the following is helpful in describing why entering a Caveat in Contentious will dispute claims is potentially very useful:

Entering a caveat can be an important and useful preliminary step to take in a potential probate dispute.

A caveat prevents a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration (“a Grant”) from being issued in an estate and therefore prevents the distribution of the estate assets. This allows the person entering the Caveat (“the caveator”) time to carry out investigations into whether there are grounds for bringing a formal claim opposing the Grant intended to prove the last Will of the Deceased.

Why might you wish to enter a caveat?

Possible reasons why you may want to prevent a Grant being issued include:

  • Concern about whether the Deceased’s last Will was validly executed
  • Concern that the Deceased lacked testamentary capacity to make the Will at the relevant time
  • Concern that the Deceased did not know or approve the contents of their Will
  • Concern that the Deceased’s Will came about as a result of the undue influence of a third party
  • The person who intends to apply for the Grant is not a suitable person to act, or may abuse their position
  • Concern that the testator’s estate will be disposed of in a manner contrary to the terms of the Will or intestacy provisions
  • Concern that the intestacy provisions are not applicable as the Deceased did leave a valid Will

Who can apply for a caveat?

Anybody with an interest in the Deceased’s estate may apply for a Caveat. That is, anybody who is appointed as an executor, or entitled to benefit from the estate, either under the Deceased’s last Will, a previous Will, or the intestacy rules.

How do I enter a Caveat?

Just to be clear (again!), go to the following link for the easiest method:

https://www.gov.uk/stop-probate-application

The following page from our website is also very helpful:

https://www.willclaim.com/claim-types/will-validity/

But always take legal advice having entered your Caveat – contact us (details below) or another legal firm with expertise in will dispute and will contest claims.

How to get rid of Caveats cheaply

We have discussed this previously (see https://www.willclaim.com/contesting-a-willremoving-a-caveat-without-issuing-court-proceedings/) but it does no harm to reprise the key issues.

The annoying feature about Caveats is that they can be constantly renewed every three months or even worse, after you have “warned” the Caveat in an attempt to get rid of it, the Caveator (“Caveator” is the legal description of the person who has entered a Caveat) can enter an “Appearance” which makes it permanent.

What can I do to remove the Caveat in these circumstances?

Don’t panic! It is often suggested by even experienced legal practitioners that the entry of an Appearance is the precursor to a full-blown claim in the High Court against the legal validity of the Will which can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds (potentially!) and hinted there is no other way (other than a recourse to the courts) to remove it. Wrong! If the Caveator agrees it can be removed for the “cost” of drafting a simple Summons (there is no fee to pay).

A more common scenario is that the Caveator “sits” on the Caveat (and/or Appearance) and does nothing in the hope you get desperate and seek a deal. Again, there is a far cheaper and effective way of getting the Caveat removed without recourse to a full-blown claim in the High Court. A Summons for Directions can be issued under rules 44(13) and 52 of the Non Contentious Probate Rules 1987 (see
https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1987/2024/article/44/made – r44(13) in particular), for a Direction that unless the Caveator commences a probate claim within (say) 42 days the Caveat will be discontinued.

If you consider any of these facts and matters are likely to apply to you, or you would like to ask us for more information about our no win no fee arrangement, or you simply want us to assess your claim, then please do not hesitate to contact us for a confidential no strings chat.

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