Client Guide: Statutory Notices
The statutory notices are advertisements published in the London Gazette and a local paper giving notice of the personal representatives' intention to distribute.
They give notice to creditors and other people who may have an ‘interest’ in the estate that any claim must be received by a specific date (at least two months from the date of the notice). The notices cost approximately £200.
Examples of people who may have an interest include:
- anyone who thinks they are owed money by the deceased
- a person claiming there is a later Will
- a person claiming he or she entered into an agreement with the deceased entitling him or her to a share in the deceased's property
- a person claiming to be a beneficiary where the beneficiaries are not named specifically (eg where the Will leaves "all my estate to my children" and the person claims to be an illegitimate child whose existence was not previously known to the rest of the deceased's family or under an intestacy where the person claims to be the nearest entitled relative whose relationship to the deceased had been concealed from the rest of the family).
These notices do not affect the right of certain people to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Please see our separate information sheet in this respect.
Once the notices have expired the personal representatives may then distribute the estate in the knowledge that they will not be personally liable should claims or debts subsequently come to light (NOTE: the claimant can still claim the amount due to him or her from the beneficiaries who have received money from the estate and the notices are no protection in respect of a claim of which the personal representatives have actual notice before distribution).
It follows that no significant distributions should be made from the Estate before the Statutory Notices have expired.
Should the notices be placed?
Unless the beneficiaries and personal representatives are one and the same, after someone has died we advise all personal representatives to place the advertisements to protect themselves against unknown debts or claims which may come to light after they have distributed the estate.
Personal representatives are not also beneficiaries
If the personal representatives are friends or relatives of the deceased they should give careful consideration to the placing of the statutory notices. The decision will depend on the particular circumstances of each case but if the personal representatives are not completely familiar with the deceased's finances and family, or have any doubts about the existence of debts or potential claims, or if there is a risk that the beneficiaries will not pay their share from the funds distributed to them (eg if they are likely to spend it all straight away), then we must advise that the statutory notices are placed. Please confirm your instructions by completing the attached reply slip and returning it to us.
Professional advisers are appointed as personal representatives
Where the personal representatives are professional advisers of the deceased person, such as solicitors and accountants, notices should be placed as a matter of course.
All the personal representatives are also beneficiaries
There is less point in placing the notices as the successful claimant can recover the amount owed from the beneficiary anyway. We will NOT, therefore, be inserting the notices unless we receive your specific instructions to do so (in which case please complete the attached reply slip and return it to us.)
Timing of the notices
The notices should be placed as soon as possible. However, where the deceased was the sole occupier of a property the placing of the notices might alert ‘undesirables’ to the fact that that property is empty and attract squatters, or to the possibility that there may be valuable contents left in it and make it vulnerable to break‑ins. You may, therefore, prefer to postpone placing the notices until either the property is sold, or at least until it has been cleared of all valuables. However, as no distributions will be made before the notices have expired, a delay in inserting them will, of course, delay the first payments to the beneficiaries.