Caveats on Probate - Why?

A caveat is not only relevant to WA land titles; they also have a role to play in the administration of deceased estates in Western Australia.

What is a Caveat on Probate?

A caveat on probate (also called a probate caveat or a caveat against an estate) is a document that is lodged at the Probate Registry of the WA Supreme Court to prevent someone from obtaining authority to administer the estate of a deceased person.

For example, if someone believes that the deceased did not have testamentary capacity at the time that they signed their last Will, they may lodge a probate caveat to prevent the executor obtaining a Grant of Probate in relation to that Will.

The caveat must be lodged before a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is made by the Court.


In order to lodge a caveat on probate, a person must have an interest in the estate that is not merely speculative and which would be affected by a grant of probate or Letters of Administration.

A caveat on probate should not be used if someone wants to claim a greater share of distribution of the estate.  In that case, a family provision claim is the correct procedure.

If a caveat on probate is filed without proper legal basis, the Supreme Court may order that the person pay the other party’s costs in dealing with the caveat.

Effect of a Caveat on Probate

When a caveat on probate is lodged, it will prevent an intending executor or administrator from obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

Caveats expire after 6 months but may be renewed by application to the WA Supreme Court.

The question as to which Will of the deceased is the last valid Will must be determined by the Supreme Court.  The length and complexity of those proceedings will depend on a number of factors, including the level of disagreement between the parties and the basis of the dispute.

Final Comments

It is very difficult to contest an executor’s or administrator’s authority after a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration has been made.

Therefore, if you have concerns regarding a deceased estate, it is very important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible to make sure that you take the correct action at the best time to preserve your interests or the interests of the deceased estate.


The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter.  Specialist legal advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. For more specific estate planning legal advice please contact us.


photo credit: Marco Bellucci via photopin cc

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