As the executor or administrator of an estate, you are responsible for a great number of tasks involving the deceased’s assets and liabilities. One of these tasks is settling any outstanding debts. This should be done with funds from the estate, but if you fail to make it clear to the creditors that the estate administration is taking place and they make a claim after all assets have been distributed, you could be held personally financially liable for settling the debt. To protect yourself from this possibility, you should take out a Section 27 notice at the start of the probate process.
A Section 27 notice is an advertisement that states that the deceased has died, and the estate is about to be distributed. The purpose of this is to ensure that all creditors know that they need to come forward and make a claim before the estate funds have been handed out to the beneficiaries.
Taking out a Section 27 notice protects the executor or administrator as they took the necessary steps to inform any potential creditors. If you decide not to take out a Section 27 notice and someone comes forward to claim a debt from the estate after it has been distributed, then you may be held liable for settling this debt yourself.
It should be noted that creditors are still entitled to come forward after the estate has been distributed when a Section 27 notice was taken out. Instead of claiming the debt from the executor or administrator, however, the creditor will claim it from the beneficiaries.
Section 27 notices should be placed in the Gazette and in a newspaper local to where the deceased owned property. If the deceased also owned a business, it is recommended that you also place a Section 27 notice in a newspaper local to where they owned their business.
You can find guidance on how to place a Section 27 notice on the Gazette website. All you need is a death certificate or a grant of probate or letters of administration. Placing a Section 27 notice should cost around £200, but the executor or administrator is not personally responsible for covering this cost and can instead charge it back to the estate as an administration expense.
Once the Section 27 notice has been placed, all potential creditors have two months to come forward and make a claim. Once the two-month period is up, the executor or administrator is free to start distributing the estate in line with the Will or the Rules of Intestacy without needing to worry about covering late claims.