What is a testamentary suit caveat – After a testamentary petition is opposed by a caveator or caveatrix the petition is converted to a suit in the High court.This is the start of a long series of court hearings and legal battles you will have to endure.But what exactly is a caveat?
What is a testamentary suit caveat
Bluntly put,a caveat is a spoke in the flow of the legal process.For example if John files a testamentary petition to ask the court to recognize him as a legal heir for a late relatives assets and estate.Another relative or friend can challenge this petition by claiming that they are the rightful heirs and not John.This challenge is done via submitting a caveat.
In a court of law,the person filing the caveat and the petitioner have equal standing and just because the petitioner was the first to claim the title and interest,does not give him some advantage.
Basis of filing a caveat
Anyone who thinks they have a legitimate legal claim to assets of deceased person via a will,testamentary succession or any other legal procedure can file a caveat.
What if the caveat is not filed?
The petitioner must serve notice in any two news dailies expressing their intent and claim to the estate.This public notice calls for anyone who wants to file a caveat to do so within a specific amount of time after the notice has been published – usually 2 weeks or so.
If there are no caveators,then the judge will give an order to make the petitioner an administrator to the estate and/or transfer the right title and interest to the petitioner.
Better to be the petitioner or the caveator?
This maybe debatable for the simple reason that both have equal rights in the suit until a judgement is made in the matter,however a testamentary suit caveat has the ability to convert a simple petition into a suit therefore dragging it into litigation for possibly even a decade(in some countries).The caveator has the ability to bring forth the petitioner to the table to negotiate terms and conditions for a settlement provided the caveat has reasonable standing.Some may call this blackmail,but this happens on an everyday basis in all civil matters.
Disadvantages and Limitations of a Testamentary Caveator
In many high courts of the world,when a caveat is filed,it must be accompanied with an affidavit in support.This notarized affidavit in support is a sworn declaration by the caveator stating how and why he/she has a legal right to be part of the suit and is a benefactor the the disputed estate.
Many a times,a caveat is filed just to bring the petitioner to their knees even though the caveator may or may not have a legal claim.Only the court can decide that,but by submitting a caveat the petitioner knows a long suit will have to be endured.
The problem is that the caveator cannot lie or give false information in anyway in the affidavit,because he will then face seperate charges on that count and also weaken his position in the suit.
As a petitioner,how do you deal with a caveator?
There are two ways to deal with the caveators,either through the legal route via the Testamentary suit or on a personal level.If relations are cordial and if you feel that the caveator has a legal right just like you, then it is wise to settle it out of court.You could do this by sharing the assets the estate and you taking over the entire estate and paying a settlement to the caveator.
If there is animosity,between petitioner and caveator then there is no choice but to go through the suit and let the court decide who should be the benefactor of the estate.