Responding to a caveat with a warning
Lodging a caveat delays a grant of probate from being given in order for someone to have time to prepare a case as to why it should not be given. It is the first step in contesting a will. For example, someone might dispute who should administer the estate, or whether the will was legally binding.
If you are an executor and you apply for a grant over an estate that has a caveat filed against it, the Probate Registry will tell you.
A caveat is entered for six months, although it can be extended any number of times. In some circumstances, you might want to wait until after six months has passed and then check whether the caveat has been extended.
Your first action should be to contact the person who has lodged it (the caveator) and see if you can resolve the issue outside of the formal, legal procedures.
If the person is unresponsive, or if you are unable to agree, you may want to issue a warning at the Registry.
A warning gives the caveator 8 days (including the date of service) either to ask for the caveat to be removed or to lodge an “appearance” that sets out why the caveat should remain in place. An appearance is not a physical appearance, but rather a counter argument in a document. Once an appearance has been entered, you either need to reach an agreement out of court, or seek a judgement in court.
How to issue a warning
To issue a warning, you send Form 4 to the Leeds District Probate Registry. You can deliver it in person, or by post. If you send it by post, we would recommend using a tracked and guaranteed service. There is no fee to pay.
You should also send a copy of the warning to the caveator at the same time.
If the caveator does not counter your warning with an appearance within 8 days, you should file an affidavit of service at the Leeds District Probate Registry. This should result in the removal of the caveat.
Serving a warning is straightforward, quick and inexpensive. However, you should only issue one if you are confident that the caveator does not have sufficient grounds to challenge a grant being given. If you issue the warning and a dispute follows that you lose, you may have to pay the legal costs of the caveator.
Assessing whether the caveator has reasonable grounds may be difficult. Issuing a warning does force him or her to disclose why he or she thinks that probate should not be granted. However, this information might be better obtained by asking him or her before issuing a warning. If he or she is uncooperative, it would support your actions in serving a warning.
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