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How Can I Stop A Claim On An Estate – The Use Of A Caveat?

When someone passes, they often leave financial matters and assets which need to be attended to. The person who has been given the legal authority and permission to do so is known as the Personal Administrator (PR) of the estate.

In order to obtain permission to deal with a deceased person’s estate, you will have to obtain a grant of representation. This can be undertaken by obtaining a Grant of Probate if there is a will or Letters of Administration if the deceased died intestate, without a will. If you are the personal representative of someone’s estate under a will you are known as Executor and without a will, you are the administrator.

However, if you are not named as either executor, or administrator, but have an interest in the estate, and are concerned about the conduct of an individual or the manner in which the estate is being approached, you are able to to prevent a grant being issued. This is known as a entering caveat against the estate. This step can be undertaken to protect your interests in the interim, although it is not permanent.

A caveat is a written notice that you can apply for at the probate registry, where you have doubts about the validity of a will, whether the deceased died intestate, or there are concerns about the way the estate will be administered. There are some limited circumstances when the caveat does not prevent a grant from being issued, or where it would be inappropriate for a caveat to be entered into.

A caveat is valid for 6 months and can be renewed every 6 months until it has been removed by order of a court, withdrawn, warned off, or superseded by , a probate claim beginning in the High Court. Evidently, as a caveat is entered into without warning or engagement with any of the parties, a person who objects to a caveat may challenge the caveat by warning this off. If the proper procedure for warning off the caveat has not been followed, for example it must be served on the caveator, then a caveat could be re-instated. The process for challenging a caveat can be complicated and is subject to strict time limits so you should seek advice at the earliest opportunity if you are engaged in this process.

Previously, if you were considering making an Inheritance Act claim against the estate you would be cautioned against entering a caveat as no such claim could be made without a grant having being obtained first. This was eventually changed by the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014. Although the time limit remains 6 months from any such grant having been issued.

Before entering a caveat, you should perform a standing search to ascertain whether it is already too later and a grant has already been put in place.

A caveat should not be entered into lightly as you will need to justify its registration if challenged and there can be costs consequences.

If you believe an estate is or has not been handled correctly and require urgent advice and assistance, please contact our specialist Dispute Resolution team who can advise you, call 0330 822 3451 or request a call back. 

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