How do I know I have got all the deceased’s assets/liabilities?
If you are dealing with the Estate of a person who has died, either as the Executor or Administrator, it will be your responsibility to ensure that all assets and liabilities of the deceased are dealt with.
You may be aware of all of their assets and liabilities, for example, if the deceased left a list, or if you were an Attorney for the deceased during their lifetime and therefore dealt with their finances. If this is the case, you may not be worried that there are any assets or liabilities that you are not aware of.
However, if you are an Executor or Administrator who is not fully aware of the deceased’s assets and liabilities, or you are dealing with a person’s Estate and you know nothing about their finances, you may wonder how you can protect yourself and make sure that you deal with everything that you possibly can.
In these circumstances, our Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors would recommend two different options, which we have discussed, below.
1. Financial Asset Search – a Financial Asset Search can be carried out against the deceased, which should show details of any assets that they held. For example, bank accounts, building society accounts, life and pension funds, Unit Trusts, Investment Trusts and Occupational Pension Schemes. Our probate experts would usually carry out the search through Landmark (https://www.landmarkfas.co.uk/financial-institutions/), however, other organisations may be able to offer a search package.
2. Section 27 Notices – Section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925 provides that if the personal representative (also called the executors or trustees) of an estate places a notice of their intention to distribute the estate in the London Gazette and in a newspaper local to the place where the deceased owned property (or, indeed, ran a business), then the personal representative may distribute the estate free from any claims of which they have NOT been notified.
Section 27 of Trustee Act 1925, sets out a minimum of two months from the date of publication of the Notices, during which any creditors should contact executors (or their representatives).
Any such creditors or beneficiaries can still follow the assets into the hands of the beneficiaries receiving them on distribution and claim against them personally, however, as executors, you would be protected from being liable for any unidentified creditors that may come about in the future.
In the event that you decide not to place Section 27 Notices, and a creditor comes forward after the estate has been distributed, you may be personally liable for the debt. We would therefore strongly recommend that you consider placing these notices. If you wish for us to place Section 27 Notices on your behalf, as executors, please do let us know. If you are happy to proceed without these Notices, you do not need to do anything further.
Section 27 Notices do come at any additional cost, which is usually in the region of £200.00 plus VAT. This disbursement can be claimed back from the estate.
If you want assistance with carrying out a Financial Asset Search or with placing Section 27 Notices, you can contact our team of expert Wills, Trusts, Tax and Probate Solicitors online, here, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.