We’re not talking obituaries here, but the executors protecting themselves against debts or liabilities which they may not have discovered. These could well leave them personally liable if the estate has been distributed and the beneficiaries refuse to stump up. This is best done early in the process to avoid later delays.
So what do the executors need to do to avoid such potential liability?
- Publish a Section 27 Notice in the Gazette.
- Publish the same notice in the local paper for the area the deceased lived in. It is often easier to do that through the Gazette.
- If they ran a business, then it is worth considering whether any trade publications should be used for the same advert.
The Gazette is formally the combination of three publications: The London Gazette, The Belfast Gazette and The Edinburgh Gazette. The Gazettes are official journals of record.
As a publication, The Gazette consists largely of statutory notices. This means that there is some legal requirement for the notice placer to advertise an event or proposal in The Gazette.
What is a Section 27 Death Notice?
Protection by means of advertisements under the Trustee Act 1925.
“(1) With a view to the conveyance to or distribution among the persons entitled to any real or personal property, the trustees of a settlement , trustees of land, trustees for sale of personal property] or personal representatives, may give notice by advertisement in the Gazette, and in a newspaper circulating in the district in which the land is situated] and such other like notices, including notices elsewhere than in England and Wales, as would, in any special case, have been directed by a court of competent jurisdiction in an action for administration, of their intention to make such conveyance or distribution as aforesaid, and requiring any person interested to send to the trustees or personal representatives within the time, not being less than two months, fixed in the notice or, where more than one notice is given, in the last of the notices, particulars of his claim in respect of the property or any part thereof to which the notice relates.
(2) At the expiration of the time fixed by the notice the trustees or personal representatives may convey or distribute the property or any part thereof to which the notice relates, to or among the persons entitled thereto, having regard only to the claims, whether formal or not, of which the trustees or personal representatives then had notice and shall not, as respects the property so conveyed or distributed, be liable to any person of whose claim the trustees or personal representatives have not had notice at the time of conveyance or distribution; but nothing in this section—
(a) prejudices the right of any person to follow the property, or any property representing the same, into the hands of any person, other than a purchaser, who may have received it; or
(b) frees the trustees or personal representatives from any obligation to make searches or obtain official certificates of search similar to those which an intending purchaser would be advised to make or obtain.
(3) This section applies notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the will or other instrument, if any, creating the trust.”
Placing a Death Notice with the Gazette – the Official Public Record
As an executor of a will, one of your responsibilities is to deal with any claims against the deceased’s estate.
After you have received grant of representation (grant of probate), it is recommended that you put a statutory advertisement (under the Trustee Act 1925 for England, or the Trustee Act 1958 in Northern Ireland) in The Gazette and a local newspaper.
Placing a Section 27 notice ensures that sufficient effort has been made to locate creditors before distributing the estate to beneficiaries, which protects the executor or trustee from being liable for any unidentified creditors.
Should a notice not be placed, and a creditor subsequently comes forward after the estate has been distributed, then you may have some personal liability for an unidentified debt. If the estate includes a property, a notice should also be put in a newspaper that is local to the property.
What happens after I have placed a Deceased Estates notice?
There is a legal minimum requirement for a claims period of 2 months and 1 day from the date of publication, during which creditors should contact executors to make their claim.