bars

CONTESTING A WILL – LET’S TALK ABOUT CAVEATS

Will claim Solicitors, specialist no win no fee will dispute and will contest Solicitors, discuss Caveats, what they do and why they are often necessary in will dispute and will contest claims.

What is a Caveat?

A Caveat is a device which is used to stop a Grant of Probate. Helpfully you can now apply on line to register one and it only costs £3! For further information about this please head to:

https://www.apply-for-probate.service.gov.uk/caveats/applicant-name

But what is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is the licence issued by a branch of the government court service that allows an Executor of a Will to administer an estate in accordance with the terms of that Will. Prior to the Grant of Probate there is no automatic right on the part of the Executor to do so (save to a limited extent to preserve or safeguard the estate and pay for the funeral etc). As the reader will appreciate, there has to be some overseeing role so far as the legality of Wills is concerned which is where the government court service in the guise of the “Probate Registry” step in. They require a formal application to be made. They might want to interview the Will witnesses but very definitely, they will want the Executors to have completed the Inland Revenue tax return. Yes, taxes come first and there is also (of course) a fee to pay.

For more information about this go to:

https://www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate

Why stop the Grant of Probate, in particular in the context of Will disputes and Will contest claims?

Once there is a Grant of Probate the estate can be administered. This means that the Executor can call in the assets, sell any property and distribute the money in accordance with the terms of the Will. If there is a dispute about the Will or some aspect of it to include its legal validity and for example whether the Executor is conflicted in some way or is unlikely to interpret the Will and administer the estate appropriately, then the administration should be stopped or there is a risk the estate could be substantially dissipated to a person or persons who shouldn’t be getting the money. The Caveat would prevent this from happening.

How long does the Caveat last and can it be renewed?

The Caveat remains in place for six months and must be renewed in the last month of its existence. The fee for this is the same – £3.

Are there risks attached to entering a Caveat?

Well we previously blogged about this in 2017. Have a look at our last article on the subject:

https://www.willclaim.com/entering-caveat-raise-concerns/

If you enter a Caveat you are strongly advised to seek independent legal advice. By all means approach us for a preliminary view (see below) and we will try and help you if we can. This is because legally you can get yourself into serious trouble if you enter a Caveat in appropriately. For instance (and don’t panic when you read this) it can lead to a full blown action in the High Court to try and force you to remove it. This said, if you are concerned, but don’t want to take any legal advice, you can remove the Caveat quite simply by asking the Probate Registry to cancel it. This can be done almost straight away.

However, what is more likely to happen is that the Caveat is “warned”. This is a process by which the party wanting to administer the estate asks you to provide some basic information about your issues with the Will, but also to confirm that you have an interest in the outcome of any dispute or Will contest claim. You must have an interest in the outcome of a dispute in relation to a Will to keep the Caveat in place. By this we mean, for example, that you are either a substantial beneficiary under a previous “valid” Will, or where there is no previous “valid” Will under the so-called rules of intestacy. The latter apply, as mentioned, where there is no previous valid Will. For information about whether you are likely to have an interest under these rules, please visit:

https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will

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.

cross