The number of notices placed in order to protect executors of deceased estates from unknown creditors is rising.
Since 2013, deceased estates notice placement in The Gazette has increased by 3 per cent, a significant step change, having remained static for a number of years.
- In 2013, 28,329 deceased estates notices were placed in The Gazette. This figure increased to 35,481 in 2015.
- The Gazette predicts a further 3 per cent increase by 2017.
The figure takes account of any increase in registered deaths.
Why the increase?
The landscape of probate is changing, as the nature of how we conduct our financial affairs moves from paper to digital. Online and paperless banking poses a growing risk for executors of a will, and this may be urging extra caution.
Even those executors with a close relationship to the deceased may be unaware of credit accounts opened online. Those credit accounts are not limited to credit cards, but also include shop cards and other forms of digital credit.
In most estates, it’s not possible to be absolutely sure that all creditors have been identified, so protection against unknown claims can be achieved by a notice in The Gazette and a local newspaper, to give anyone who may have a claim two months to send them particulars of their claim.
Without a notice being placed, if creditor subsequently comes forward after the estate has been distributed, the executor may have some personal liability for an unidentified debt.
Ben Davies TEP, partner and head of wills, trusts and probate at Prince Evans Solicitors LLP, commented that the rise may also be attributable to the increase in the number of contentious probate matters, as more and more estates are being challenged, and executors take the necessary steps to protect themselves. Put simply, he says:
“When acting as an executor or administrator of a deceased’s estate, protect against the unknown: always place a Section 27 Trustee Act notice.”
See also: How to place a deceased estates notice