What is a Section 27 Notice in Probate?
05 June 2019
A Section 27 notice is an advertisement that the Personal Representative of an Estate places in the Gazette and a newspaper local to the deceased's property to inform any potential creditors that the Estate is soon going to be distributed. This gives the deceased's creditors an opportunity to claim back money or property that they are owed before the Estate is distributed to the beneficiaries.
Section 27 of the Trustee Act
The person responsible for administering an Estate after someone has died is called the Personal Representative. This role carries with it a number of responsibilities, and one of these responsibilities is to settle any outstanding debts.
A Section 27 notice is called this because it relates directly to Section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925. This provides protection for the Personal Representative when they place a notice which informs potential creditors that the Estate is soon to be distributed. The notice should be placed in the Gazette and, if the Estate contains a property, it should also be placed in the newspaper local to that property. It can also be advisable for the Personal Representative to place notices anywhere else that would seem prudent, for example, where the deceased owned a business.
These notices are sometimes called statutory advertisements and they allow a timeframe of about two months for anyone to come forward and claim their interest in the Estate. Any creditors who have failed to come forward during this timeframe can't then hold the Personal Representative liable for the unpaid debt.
This means that after the two month window has expired, the Personal Representative is then free to distribute the Estate to the beneficiaries.
If the Personal Representative doesn't place a Section 27 notice, then they could be held personally liable to settle the outstanding debt with the creditor.
Is a Section 27 Notice a Legal Requirement?
There is no legal requirement, as such, for a Personal Representative to place a Section 27 notice. However, by placing the notice, the Personal Representative will be protected from any personal liability if a creditor comes forward to make a claim further down the line. Though the creditor will still be entitled to claim the amount owed to them from the beneficiaries of the Estate.
If they have placed a Section 27 notice, the Personal Representative can distribute the Estate to the beneficiaries, safe in the knowledge that they won't be held personally liable if any debts or claims come to light in the future. They could still potentially be held liable for unpaid debts, but only if it can be proven that they were aware of these debts when the Estate was distributed.
Do note, however, that Section 27 notices don't override a person's legal right to make a claim against an Estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Under this Act, certain individuals are legally entitled to make a claim if they don't feel that they have been adequately provided for under the Will.
How to Place a Section 27 Notice
While most Section 27 notices are placed by professionals, such as Solicitors and professional Executors, it is possible for anyone to place a Section 27 notice.
There is comprehensive guidance on how to do this on the Gazette's website. In order to place a Section 27 notice you need to have first obtained either the Grant of Probate, Grant of Letters of Administration or the death certificate.
The cost of placing a Section 27 notice is usually in the region of £200, but this can vary for some local newspapers. This is an administration expense and is therefore payable from the Estate.