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A caveat is a notice issued by the Principal Registry or a District Registry which prevents a grant of probate from being issued.

How long is a caveat on a will in place?

Upon a caveat being entered by a party, (here the “the caveator”), any application for probate submitted by an opposing party will be stopped or prevented for 6 months. That 6 month period is extendable for further 6 month periods by the caveator. If it is not extended it will expire automatically. It can also be withdrawn by the caveator, (prior to an appearance being entered — see below).

Why would someone enter a caveat on a will?

A caveator may have significant doubt that the last will of a loved one is valid, (for example, because they may have lacked capacity to make a will), or that the person intending to take out a grant is suitable for the role.

When should a person not enter a caveat?

It is usually inappropriate to enter a caveat where a person intends bringing a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, (“the Act”). When bringing a claim under the Act a person is, in effect, admitting the validity of the will, (unless they are bringing a challenge to the validity of the will as an alternative to/without prejudice to a claim under the Act).

A person should also refrain from entering a caveat where there is no reasonable basis upon which the validity of the will can be doubted. If a person enters a caveat in these circumstances, they may face significant criticism from the court and, worse, financial penalties, (namely paying the costs of all the parties to the proceedings).

How does someone enter a caveat on a will?

A person interested in the estate can issue a caveat online or by post by completing Form PA8A and pay the appropriate fee, (currently £3).

As the caveat system is electronic, the caveator must provide the deceased’s full name and their last address. Accuracy is crucial as they otherwise run the risk of the caveat being ineffective, a grant issuing and assets being dissipated. This can make it much more difficult for a claimant to make any recovery.

At what point should a person enter a caveat?

Expedience is fundamental. As soon as a person believes they have a legitimate reason to enter a caveat, the entry should be made to avoid the risk of dissipation.

What if a grant has issued?

If a person has been unable to prevent the issuing of a grant they may need to seek a revocation of the grant.

What happens if a caveat is opposed?

The person opposing the caveat issues a “warning” from the Leeds District Probate Registry. This will set out their interest and will be served on the caveator.

The caveator must then respond to the warning within 14 days by entering an appearance or issuing and serving a summons for directions.

If the caveator enters an appearance the caveat becomes permanent and a grant will not be issued without a court order. It is therefore typically a step taken as a precursor to a contentious probate dispute.

If the caveator issues a summons for directions, the caveator usually seeks an order for the issue of the grant to a named person.

If the caveator does not respond at all, either within the 14 days or otherwise, the opposing party should file an affidavit or a witness statement showing that the warning was served, and the caveat should then be removed.


If you wish to enter or oppose a caveat, and it is reasonable to do so, it is essential that you act without delay. With the appropriate legal strategy, advice and expert input, there are good options available to parties to enable them to avoid court proceedings and deal with matters by consent.

For further guidance on will disputes, contact our will dispute lawyers.

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