What Are Statutory Advertisements in Probate?

10 October 2018

One of the many responsibilities of the Executor is to notify potential creditors or Beneficiaries of the death so that they have an opportunity to make their claim against the Estate. One way of doing this is to place statutory advertisements in newspapers.

Being appointed as an Executor of an Estate can be a very daunting experience as there are many pitfalls that, unless you have experience, you may not be aware of. One of the more common pitfalls that Executors make during Probate is becoming personally liable for debts from creditors or Beneficiaries after the Estate has been distributed.

Providing the Executor has complied with their obligation to notify creditors, then they will be protected if any creditors or Beneficiaries then go on to claim that they were not notified of the death.

Statutory Advertisements

The law recommends that Executors, Trustees or Personal Representatives place statutory advertisements in the London Gazette newspaper for a minimum period of two months. If the deceased owned property, a statutory advertisement should also be placed in the paper local to where the property is situated, also for a minimum of two months. No distribution of funds or appropriation of assets should be made from the Estate during the advertisement period.

Placing Statutory Advertisements for Creditors is not a legal requirement. However, by placing the advertisements the Trustees/Executors/Personal Representatives protect themselves against being held personally liable for any claims from creditors or Beneficiaries in the future.

Once the advertisements have been placed for the minimum period the Executor may distribute the Estate to the Beneficiaries, safe in the knowledge that they will not be held personally liable should any claims or debts subsequently come to light.

How to Place Statutory Advertisements

Research shows that the majority of statutory advertisements placed are done so by professional Executors, however it is possible for a non-professional Executor to place the advertisements, especially if they are not the sole Beneficiary of the Estate.

The Gazette provides comprehensive guidance on how to place a statutory advertisement. Note that you will need to register on their website and upload a copy of the Grant of Probate or death certificate.

Who Will Become Liable for the Debts?

It is important to note that statutory advertisements do not affect the right of certain people to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Once the advertisement has been placed, although the Executor would be protected from personal liability for the debt, the creditor would still be able to claim the amount due from Beneficiaries who have received money from the Estate. The advertisements would also not protect the Executor against any claims or debts that they were aware of at the time of the distribution.

Therefore if you are the Executor and sole Beneficiary of the Estate the statutory advertisements would not adequately protect you. You would become liable for the debts as a Beneficiary if not as the Executor of the Estate.

How Much Do Statutory Advertisements Cost?

The cost of the advertisements are an acceptable administration expense and would be settled using funds from the Estate. These usually cost in the region of £200, but individual papers may vary.

Co-op Legal Services is the largest provider of Probate and Estate Administration services in England and Wales, trusted to deal with over £1.3 billion in Estates annually.

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