A probate caveat is a written notice to the Probate Registry, the intention of which is to prevent a grant of probate from being issued to a third party without warning being transmitted to the person who filed the notice and thereby entered the caveat. The person who benefits from the probate caveat is known as a caveator and they must, within 8 days of receiving notice of a third parties intentions to obtain a grant of probate, take legal action otherwise the caveat ceases to have effect. This means that the person who files the application may effectively obtain extra time to make enquiries and to obtain such information to determine whether or not there may be sufficient grounds to oppose the issue of grant of probate in a court of law. A probate caveat must be filed before the day that an application for grant of probate is received or it will be of no effect and once granted a caveat lasts for 6 months whereupon it must be renewed. Extreme care must be taken by a probate caveat solicitor to ensure that the deceased exact name is used in the application.

Caveat Procedure

A probate caveat is a means of temporarily stopping the issue of a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration from the Probate Registry of the High Court of Justice. Once issued a probate caveat allows an interested party time to investigate and where appropriate to take legal action against another person who may be unlawfully attempting to obtain a grant of representation with a view to wrongful disposing of the assets of the deceased. A probate caveat may be appropriate in several situations including matters relating to the validity of a will, issues of fraud or undue influence, anticipated wrongful asset disposal if granted or the bona fides of the applicant who may have no entitlement to a grant of representation.

A caveat is issued out of the Probate Registry of the High Court of Justice following submission of an application form by a 'caveator' supported by full information and accompanied by the relevant court fee. Once issued, no one can obtain a grant of representation without further order of the court which is on notice to interested parties. The caveat lasts for 6 months but can be renewed upon application with a further court fee being paid.

Once issued, any person applying for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration is stopped and a 'warning notice' is sent out to the caveator requiring further action to be taken within 8 days (an 'appearance') failing which the caveat lapses and the issue of a grant of representation can proceed. Once an appearance has been entered the caveat remains in force indefinitely, until the matter is resolved by way of contested probate proceedings. The caveator can release the caveat if matters are settled.


In disputed will cases it is not always appropriate to lodge a probate caveat and it may simply be necessary to take action against the estate by issuing legal proceedings in the High Court after a Grant of Probate has been issued. It may in certain circumstances be necessary to issue an injunction against the executors of the estate. An injunction is an equitable remedy whereby the court can order a particular person to either do or refrain from doing certain acts which in these cases can include a bar on the distribution of money or property until such time as the legal issues are resolved. Breach of an injunction can be a serious offence that may carry both civil and criminal liability and penalties including imprisonment for contempt of court.

An injunction is an order of the court requiring someone to do something or requiring someone not to do something. If a Grant of Probate has been issued, it is possible to apply to the court for an injunction which will prevent the executor or administrator from taking further action including sale or disposal of assets until such time as any dispute is heard before a Judge in a court of law. An injunction can be issued on an emergency basis on the same day as the application is made without the other side being present or even being notified, as an ex-party injunction which will be valid upon service or notice given to the executor or administrator. In the case of an ex-party injunction, the matter is remitted back to the court in short order to enable both parties to be heard by a Judge who will make a final decision about the issue. Failure to abide by the terms of an injunction is a contempt of court and can result in imprisonment.Contentious Cases

Searching for a solicitor is no small task which becomes more difficult when trying to find a lawyer with in depth experience of both contentious probate and contested wills that may require the issue of a probate caveat. UK solicitors tend to fall into two different categories. One category is solicitors who do court work and the other is composed of solicitors who don’t do court work. Not often do you find one lawyer that fits into both categories. Despite the mindset that a solicitor has to be one or the other, certain legal situations can arise where you need someone who possesses both skill sets as in the case of contentious probate.

Probate Caveat Solicitors

Typically, a lawyer whose work centers on wills and probate seldom has the need to resort to civil courts. When this does arise, the case will usually be handled by the firm’s litigation department. This is not, however, an entirely satisfactory solution to the problem. A firm’s litigation department is unlikely to have significant experience in wills and probate. Business disputes and traffic accidents are more their areas of focus. Rarely can you find a solicitor in the UK with experience of wills and probate as well as significant experience of settling disputes in court. Such skill sets are often mutually exclusive however both areas of expertise are critical when litigation related to probate or wills arises. It would be an enormous risk to simply select a high profile lawyer without regard to their knowledge of the field. That is where we come in. Our probate caveat solicitors offer a highly specialised service. We’re a small, select team of solicitors with experience both in the law of wills and probate as well as courtroom work. You can contact us today for advice on any matters related to probate and will contests. Simply fill out our contact form or call us on our helpline or email our offices. This initial consultation is free of charge, and you’re under no further obligation.