The probate process typically starts after your loved one passes away.
The purpose is to administer the estate of that deceased person, and it gives an opportunity for heirs to challenge the will if they feel there was tampering. Most probates go through without issue.
However, there could come a time when legal heirs want to challenge a will or stop the process of probate entirely.
Stopping probate requires an attorney to file a probate caveat.
Caveats cannot be filed haphazardly. And once probate starts, there is no guarantee your case would qualify for caveats. Understanding how this legal process works, when it applies, and who can file it is your first step toward seeing if it is an option for you.
Naturally, you should consult with an estate attorney before assuming a caveat is viable.
The Basics of Caveat: When Can You Stop Probate in Plainview, NY?
Probate caveats are legal maneuvers that give notice to the probate court to suspend the process. Caveats must file before probate begins as a pre-probate legal action. Caveats prevent the estate’s executor from administering the estate or moving forward with the process.
Also, a caveat tells the court about discrepancies found in the estate plan and allows for any contests to move forward. Once the caveat files, the probate process is suspended until the reason for the caveat is resolved.
Who Can File a Caveat?
Anyone with interest in the estate, not just the executor, can file the notice. However, it is best to hire an attorney to file on your behalf.
Also, creditors may file caveats.
Anyone affected by probate can file a caveat to stop the process. The party that files a probate caveat is named the caveator. Caveats are used for specific situations, including:
- The caveator suspects the will was forged and not approved or signed by the deceased.
- The caveator suspects that the deceased made the will under duress.
- The caveator alleges there was no will and wants to prevent the executor from administering the property of that will intestate.
- The caveator suspects the deceased was mentally incapacitated; therefore, they could not legally sign their will.
- The caveator is in the middle of a dispute about including an heir in the will or excluding an heir from the will.
To File the Caveat or Not: When Is a Caveat Necessary?
Caveats do not always work as an advantage to the party filing them. Therefore, you should only submit a caveat after consulting with an attorney and deciding it is the best solution for your situation.
The benefit of a caveat is that a temporary, neutral party is then named by the court to serve as an administrator during this challenge. This means, if you wanted the original executor removed, you do not have to worry about them continuing to manage the estate while the caveat finalizes.
The neutral party named prevents the current executor from accessing assets, but that neutral party comes at an expense to the estate. Therefore, the process of completing a caveat can be expensive.
Also, caveat results are appealable, which means that the result you get might go for further hearings and eventually cost your estate more.
How Can an Executor Fight a Caveat?
Sometimes, the executor must remove the caveat to execute the will effectively. If you are an administrator of a will and a caveat has been filed, you should consult with an attorney.
Caveats are the first step to a will contest, which means that a contest hearing is likely to come next. Furthermore, a caveat prevents you from doing what is necessary to complete the estate and fulfill your obligations as an executor.
Do You Need an Attorney for a Caveat?
Whether you are filing the caveat or you wish to remove a caveat, an estate attorney is almost always necessary. Rarely is an administrator or the party filing a caveat familiar with estate laws, including the grounds for a caveat and how to file the petition itself.
Not only do you need to review the will and object to the caveat, but you need to understand the law so that you can regain control of the estate and continue your obligations as the executor. An experienced attorney knows the caveat process and can stop unnecessary will contests from affecting the estate for months.
Will Contests Can Still Happen after Probate
Even if you successfully remove the caveat and complete probate, an heir can contest a will after probate. Note that there are time limits on how long one has to challenge after probate starts. And once the estate is administered, the chances of succeeding at a will contest are quite low.
Finding the Right Lawyer for the Job
If you are an administrator of an estate dealing with a caveat or you are an heir that wishes to stop probate, you must consult with an estate attorney.
You want an attorney that has experience in estate litigation and one that can quickly focus on the matter at hand to prevent any unnecessary delays. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., can help with your case. We look for the fastest, most cost-efficient way to resolve your estate issues – including caveats and contests.
To explore your options or to discuss your issues with a caveat, contact our law firm for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
Call to schedule your consultation appointment now at 516-605-0625 or request more information online.