Many people use the word ‘caveat’ in the informal sense without actually knowing its use within the legal system. A common example of using ‘caveat’ in modern language is perhaps best equated to as a qualifier. However, a caveat has much more impact in the formal, legal sense, especially when dealing with property.
What is a caveat?
A caveat is a notice of a claim to an interest in property. The word caveat is Latin for “let him beware”. The intent of a caveat is usually to prevent someone from dealing with a property or registering an Instrument in the Register without first getting the consent of the person who lodged the caveat (the caveator).
When might a caveat affect me?
A caveat can affect you when it comes to buying or selling a property or when executing the will of a deceased family member. For example, a concerned party may lodge a caveat on an estate to prevent a grant of probate (the official proving of a will). A probate caveat’s primary intention is to issue a challenge upon the deceased’s Last Will and Testament.
A specific example of where a probate caveat could be warranted is where someone has reason to believe that the will was a forgery or not freely made by the deceased. (This includes any suspected changes that were not authorised by the deceased). Probate caveats are not designed to be used for someone who is merely unhappy with the content of the will itself.
How do I remove a caveat?
Usually caveats lapse after a period of time. Alternatively, you may need to apply to the Court to remove a caveat or negotiate with the caveator to withdraw or remove it.
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