The Power of a Caveat

Contemplating a challenge to a Will? One of your first steps should be considering a caveat. This legal tool acts as a brake, ensuring that executors can’t proceed with distributing the estate as per the Will if there’s a dispute.

When you file a caveat (for a small fee) at the Probate Office or a District Registry, it prevents them from issuing a Grant of Probate. This is a crucial document that confirms the executors’ authority to manage the deceased’s affairs. A caveat effectively puts this process on hold for six months, giving you time to strengthen your case. This period can even be extended if needed.

This timeout is not just about stopping the process; it’s about giving you space to investigate. It’s your opportunity to gather evidence, assess the strength of your claim, and decide your next steps.

Here are some instances where filing a caveat might be necessary:

– Questioning the validity of the Will.
– Doubting whether the Will was signed appropriately.
– Suspecting the Will-maker lacked the mental capacity to draft their Will.
– Concerning that the Will-maker was unaware or did not approve of the contents of their Will.
– Believing the Will-maker was unduly influenced during the making of their Will.

Additionally, if there is no Will, and you wish to halt the issuance of ‘Letters of Administration’ (a similar authorization to the Grant of Probate issued when there is no Will), filing a caveat is also applicable.

Filing a caveat can be complex. Errors during filing, such as claiming a right to file when you don’t have one, or making mistakes in the paperwork, can lead to your caveat being challenged or even deemed invalid. This could potentially expose you to legal costs. Therefore, while it’s possible to file a caveat on your own, it’s often wise to enlist the help of a solicitor to ensure everything is done correctly.

Remember, in legal disputes, it’s crucial to get professional advice. Solicitors can provide guidance but cannot charge fees based on a percentage of any potential award or settlement in contentious cases.

Filing a caveat is a strategic move that can make a significant difference in estate disputes. If you’re considering this, don’t hesitate to seek expert legal advice to navigate this complex area effectively.