Estate executors need to be aware of the risk of personal liability when dealing with estate administration. Placing statutory advertisements is one way of reducing the risk. We take a look at what they are and when it might be advisable to use them.
When dealing with the winding up of someone’s affairs after their death, the executor or administrator has a range of tasks to carry out. This starts with valuing the estate and calculating and paying Inheritance Tax.
Once a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration is received, the estate’s assets can be gathered in and all of the estate’s debts cleared. Ultimately, the net estate is distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will. If the deceased did not leave a Will, then the Rules of Intestacy will determine who is entitled to inherit.
What are statutory advertisements?
Statutory advertisements are placed in a paper known as the Gazette, which is an official journal of record. They can serve two different purposes. Firstly, you can ask for any creditors of the estate to make themselves known. Secondly, you can ask for beneficiaries to make themselves known.
By placing official advertisements, you reduce the risk of being held personally liable for debts that were not cleared before the estate was distributed. It also gives beneficiaries the opportunity to claim their inheritance. This can be particularly important where the Will refers to a class of people rather than named individuals. For example, if the estate is to be divided between ‘my grandchildren’, the personal representatives need to try and establish who is included.
If there is no Will, it can also be advisable to place a statutory advertisement. The Rules of Intestacy set out in order of priority who will inherit. This can include the deceased’s children and grandchildren, so again, it is important to try to identify them and give them the opportunity to come forward.
The advertisements should run for a minimum of two months. Where the deceased owned a property, you should also place an advertisement in the paper local to the property.
Section 27 of the Trustee Act notice
Section 27 of the Trustee Act provides that where the personal representative of an estate has placed a notice advising potential creditors that an estate will shortly be distributed, they can be protected from liability for claims made by creditors and/or beneficiaries of the estate.
The notice needs to include certain details, including the:
- Deceased’s name
- Deceased’s address
- Deceased’s date of birth
- Deceased’s occupation
- Name of the estate’s executor or administrator
You will also need to provide a copy of the death certificate, the Grant of Probate or the Grant of Letters of Administration as well as the paper’s fee.
Distributing the estate
The estate should not be distributed until at least two months after the publication of the statutory notices. This is the length of time a creditor has in which to make a claim in England and Wales.
Beneficiaries have longer to make a claim. Where they are entitled to inherit, they have 12 years in which to claim. Where an individual has not been left anything in the estate but they wish to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, they have six months from the date of the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration.
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